As counting remains underway in the US election 2020, days after Election Day, keeping the status of the election in what is being termed as suspended animation, one of the types of ballots set to become a big issue are provisional ballots.
US election 2020: what are provisional ballots?
In the US election 2020, if one’s name is not on the voter list at the designated polling station, a voter is given the right to use a provisional ballot to cast their vote. This type of ballot differs physically only in the sense that it is placed in a special envelope prior to being put in the ballot box.
According to CNN, under federal law, any US citizen should always be qualified to cast a provisional ballot at the polls, even if their registration status is not clear.
These ballots are used if voters have issues that need to be resolved before their vote is counted, including a different address on the voter roll in their new precinct, forgetting to bring a mandated ID to vote, changing their name, or simply having their name misspelt on the rolls, according to NBC News.
Other issues include requesting absentee ballots and choosing to instead vote in person, having requested an absentee ballot and not receiving it, or being removed accidentally from the rolls.
In essence, absentee ballots are fallbacks when voters cannot directly and immediately prove their eligibility to vote and/or face snags in the process of voting.
Why do Provisional ballots take longer to count?
According to USA Today, provisional ballots are a confusing part of the voting process and are handled differently from state to state.
According to CNN, these ballots are counted last and are initially kept separate from others while they are investigated by US election 2020 officials.
The National Conference of State Legislatures states that there are several steps involved before such a ballot is counted.
The process involves verifying the voter’s identity and qualification/eligibility to vote and may require the voter to provide further information.
If the identity of the voter and the voter’s eligibility can be authenticated through reviewing the voter rolls or verifying a signature, all or a portion of the provisional ballot will be counted.
If their eligibility cannot be established, the ballot will not be counted.