The Provisional Ballot-the ballot that doesn’t get counted?
Part 4 ‐‐ Getting to Know Your Election Process
Revised August 2014
Whoa!!!!! Who said these provisional ballots don’t get counted? Provisional Ballots are
mandated by Federal Law, and their purpose is to help the Voter update their Voter
Registration file and to make sure no qualified Voter is prevented from voting. Voter
misunderstanding of the provisional ballot often leads to upset Voters. Many do not realize that their right to their one ballot is being protected by the provisional ballot process. The poll worker assigned the position of Special Situations Clerk is at every poll site and in charge of the provisional ballots-they are ready to help the Voter.
A call by the Voter in advance of the election to Voter Registration would eliminate most of the provisional ballots! A simple call would prevent the Voter having to fill out the provisional form at the poll site and save time and effort not only for the Voter but also for all the election people involved. Let me share with you the process of the provisional ballot and the duties of the different provisional ballot verification and processing boards (these boards are comprised of members from both major political parties represented in the state of Arizona).
Here are 11 reasons why a Voter would have to vote a provisional ballot:
1. Voter has changed their name
2. Voter changed their mailing address
3. Voter has moved
4. Voter’s name is not in the Register
5. Voter is marked as “Early Voter-was sent an early ballot by mail
6. Voter presented a Tribal ID with their name but no address
7. Voter’s ID is incorrect (even if Register has the correct address - ID must match register)
8. Voter is challenged at the poll site by another citizen as being not qualified to vote in that
9. Voter has no ID and refuses to furnish any-they must return to a verification site with their
proper ID within 5 days of a federal office election or within 3 days for a state or local
election, or their provisional ballot will not be processed
10. Voter has only one form of the alternative (one without a photo) ID-2 different forms are
required (they must return to a verification site with their proper ID within 5 days of a
federal office election or within 3 days for a state or local election, or their provisional ballot
will not be processed)
11. Voter’s photo ID does not reasonably match the Voter (they must return to a verification
site with their proper ID within 5 days of a federal office election or within 3 days for a
state or local election, or their provisional ballot will not be processed)
ID at the polls was voted for and passed by the Voters of Arizona in 2004 as a protection for
the Voter and their ballot. The provisional ballot helps insure that the Voter whose ID does
not match can still cast a ballot once they have been identified as being the person they say
they are, and that they are qualified to vote in that specific election.
Some of the different provisional situations and their processes:
ü Voter’s ID does not match Voter Registrations records in Register
· ID Clerk sends the Voter over to the Special Situation Clerk for assistance
· If the Voter has moved, they will be asked to call Voter Registration so that the
poll worker can help the Voter locate the correct precinct polling location.
· If the Voter is in the proper polling place, then the Special Situations Clerk will
assist the Voter in correcting their address or name on the Voter Registration files
by helping them fill out a provisional ballot form.
ü Voter’s name not in the Register, they are sent to the Special Situations Clerk who will
help them determine if they are at the correct poll site ‐‐ maybe they moved into the
precinct and haven’t notified Voter Registration yet.
· A quick call to Voter Registration will help determine if the Voter is in the wrong
precinct poll site or not.
· Voter Registration will help the Voter find the location where they need to go to
vote. (Remember: a Voter must vote in the precinct in which they reside in order
for their ballot to be processed and counted. Voter Registration has the answers
· If the Voter is at the correct poll site, the Special Situations Clerk will help them
make the proper changes on the provisional ballot form so that the next time
they come to vote, their name and address will be recorded correctly in the
Roster and Registers.
ü Voter requested, was sent, or has voted an early ballot, and they come to their poll site
on Election Day and request to vote.
· Maybe they have forgotten they have already voted in that election (early ballots
are sent out 26 days before an election), or maybe the Voter fears their early
ballot was lost in the mail, or maybe they never received the early ballot in the
· Any Voter that has been sent an early ballot is marked in the Roster and Registers
as an “Early Voter” or “Absentee” to alert the ID Clerk to send them to the Special
Situations Clerk at the provisional table to vote a provisional ballot.
· Voter must vote a provisional ballot as the poll worker has no way of knowing
whether the early ballot has been mailed to Voter Registration and possibly
processed already, or not.
· The provisional ballot process allows the Voter to vote in case their early ballot
was never received by Voter Registration.
· This process prevents a Voter from voting twice should a Voter try to defraud the
· Whichever ballot gets to Voter Registration first, will be processed
The Provisional Ballot Form:
ü Page 1 is a tool to assist the Voter
· Contains information for the Voter & will be given to the Voter as their receipt
· Has a PIN number on it so that the Voter may go to their computer, look up their
PIN on the website, and see how their provisional ballot was processed
· If they do not have a computer, the form has the 1‐800 phone number so they
can call Voter Registration, give them their information and PIN, and determine
the outcome of their provisional ballot
· Lists acceptable forms of ID for the Voter who must return with proper ID to a
ü Page 2 assists both the Voter and Voter Registration to change the Voter’s information,
update records, & furnish proof that the Voter is who they say they are:
· Box A will contain the Voter’s current information, and includes their Driver’s
License number or last 4 digits of their Social Security number, plus their birth
date so that the correct “John Smith” can be established.
· Box B will contain the Voter’s former information if it is a name, address, or
mailing address change. This is the “old” information the Voter Registration has
on file, and must have in order to locate the correct voter and update his/her
· Box C will contain the Voter’s signature by which the Voter attests under penalty
of perjury that the information furnished is correct, they reside in the precinct,
are eligible to vote in this election, and have not previously voted is this election.
(This protects the Voter’s ballot from being “stolen” by someone else.)
· Box A & Box C must always be filled out or the provisional cannot be processed -
Box B must be filled out if this is a name or address change
ü A provisional form assists the Voter in updating their Voter Registration information
without making a separate trip or call to Voter Registration.
ü In the case of an “Early Voter” or Voter with no ID, the provisional protects the election
process from possible fraud yet guarantees that no Voter will be disenfranchised if they
are legitimately voting.
ü Once Voter Registration has received the information, the Voter’s records are update
and the Voter will vote a regular ballot in the next election.
ü All legitimate provisional ballots will be processed and counted.
What is the Provisional Roster?
ü All provisional ballot Voters must sign a Provisional Roster, showing that they received a
ballot at the poll site.
ü The Provisional Roster becomes a part of the Signature Roster, an official document,
that will be received and examined by Voter Registration.
ü Eventually the Signature Roster and Provisional Roster will be sent to the AZ State
Archives and be kept as a permanent record.
What happens to the Provisional Ballot after it leaves the poll site?
ü Voter votes their ballot & seals it inside the provisional envelope with their information
attached to the outside of the envelope
ü Provisional envelope is placed in sealed provisional ballot box
ü Sealed provisional ballot box is brought into the Receiving Center at the end of election
night by Inspector & Judge of a different political party
ü Receiving Board, also of different political party members, breaks the seals, counts the
envelopes, & verifies the number of provisional ballots enclosed against the precinct’s
recorded number on their signed official ballot report.
ü Receiving Board turns custody of the provisional ballots, still sealed inside their
envelopes, over to the Voter Registration Office.
ü Voter Registration takes each sealed provisional envelope & verifies the signature of the Voter
ü If the Voter refused to sign the provisional ballot form, there is no way Voter
Registration can verify that the “Voter” is who they say they are so the provisional ballot
must be rejected.
ü Voter’s signature is their guarantee that their ballot has not been stolen.
ü Voter Registration verifies the signature, marks the provisional as “Yes‐Accepted” or
ü The “Yes‐Accepted” sealed provisional envelopes are bundled into packs of 50, placed in
a securely sealed case, and sent to the Provisional Ballot Board.
ü The “No‐Rejected” sealed provisional envelopes will be held and then delivered after all
provisional have been verified. Here are the reasons a provisional ballot will be rejected
in the verification process:
1. Voter not registered
2. Voter registered after the 29 day cut‐off
3. Proper ID not provided by deadline
4. Information on form is illegible
5. Information on form is incomplete
6. Form is not signed by Voter
7. Voter voted in the wrong precinct
8. Voter voted a ballot not in their jurisdiction
9. Voter voted a wrong Party ballot (in the Primary Election or Presidential
10. No ballot in envelope
11. Voter challenged at poll site & challenge is upheld
12. Voter voted & returned an early ballot.
ü Provisional Ballot Board receives the “Yes - Accepted” provisional ballots still sealed
inside their individual envelopes.
ü All precautions to protect the secrecy of the ballot is taken by the board in separating
the ballot from the name of the Voter on the provisional envelope.
· Provisional Ballot Board is comprised of 5 persons of different political parties
· 1st member compares Voter’s name on list to provisional ballot received
· 2nd member slits the top of the envelope
· 3rd member separates the ballot from the envelope, passing the ballot
immediately to the 4th member of the board
· 4th member of the board checks the ballot for tears, smears, etc.
· 5th member of the board receives the ballot & counts the ballots into piles of 50
ü The Provisional Ballot Board sends the provisional ballots to the Processing Board to be
ü The envelopes that are marked as “No-Rejected” will be left unopened and placed, still
sealed, in the vault to be destroyed after the retention period.
ü If the Processing Board finds accepted ballots with write‐ins, those ballots will be sent to
the Write‐In Tally Board to be checked and the legitimate write‐in names counted.
Do provisional ballots get counted?
Go to the Mohave County web site at: Link, then to the Elections
Department. On the left hand menu, click on “Past Election Results”. Choose an election of
your choice under the “Statement of Votes Cast” (PDF File) report. On this report you will see
“provisional ballots cast” listed along with the “poll site ballots cast” and the “early ballots
cast” totals. This is the number of provisional ballots that were valid and processed.
New link for Provisional Voters:
As stated above, there is a new link for Provisional Voters to check to see what has happened
to their provisional ballot. On the Elections Department web page, in the left hand menu, you
will see the link “Search Your Provisional Ballot”. Click on that link and it will take you to the
site where you can enter your information and PIN number from your provisional ballot form
and learn what has happened to your provisional ballot. For those who do not have a
computer, you can still call Voter Registration and receive your information from them. Voter
Registration’s phone number is 928‐753‐0767.
Protecting the secrecy and the security of the provisional ballot:
Throughout the entire provisional ballot process representatives from the two major political
parties are witnessing the proceedings, and the secrecy of the ballot is maintained. The varied
workers participating in the provisional process are sworn in under oath and witness each
other as well. The integrity of our voting process is maintained and protected at all stages.
The Boards check the final election reports and confirm the ballot counts. All members take
their duties seriously.
I hope this has been informative and helps build a better understanding
of our election process and the security and precautions that are in
affect here in Mohave County!
Election Audit Boards
Part 5 ‐‐ Getting to know Your Election Process
Revised March 2014
Here is another “behind the scenes” set of Boards that work very hard to help Mohave
County protect the integrity of your election process. These two Boards are comprised
of the two major political parties and their jobs are to see that the optical scan ballot
equipment (OS Units), the touch screen voting units (TSX Units), and the central
counting equipment recorded the ballots correctly.
In-House Audit Board:
This Board takes all the official Ballot Reports (filled out and signed by each poll site
Board which has accounted for every ballot delivered to their poll site and every Voter
who voted at their poll site on Election Day-all recorded on a legal document called
the Ballot Report and Certification.) The In-House Audit Board compares these official
reports to each OS ballot cast report tape, TSX ballot cast report tape, and the final
election report (the numbers you see posted on the website). They check each
precinct to make sure all the ballots and all the Voters are properly accounted for.
They must complete this job before the canvass can be finalized and approved by the
Mohave County Board of Supervisors.
Political Party Audit Board:
This Board too must complete their audit before the canvass. This Board is conducted
by the two major political parties, and observed by the Mohave County Elections
Director. The Arizona Statutes (A.R.S. 16-602) guides the political parties on just how
the audit should be conducted. Here is the process that they must follow:
1. 14 days before an election, the Mohave County Elections Director notifies the
County Political Party chairmen of the requirement to provide names of Hand Count
Board members. (This lets the Elections Department know whether the political
parties desire to participate in this audit.)
2. The County Political Party Chairmen shall designate in writing at least two Hand
Count Board members per precinct to be audited. The number of precincts to be
audited is determined by 2% of the total county precincts or two precincts
whichever is larger; this equals two precincts for Mohave County. This list is
delivered to the Mohave County Elections Director by 5:00 p.m. on the Tuesday
preceding the election.
3. If the total number of Hand Count Board members provided on the lists from all the
County Political Party chairmen is less than four times the number of precincts to
be audited, the Election Director shall notify the parties of the shortage by 9:00 a.m.
on the Wednesday preceding the election.
4. The hand count shall not proceed unless the political parties provide the County
Election Director, in writing, a sufficient number of persons by 5:00 p.m. on the
Thursday preceding the election. No more than 75% of the persons performing the
hand count shall be from the same political party. All Hand Count Board members
shall be registered to vote in Arizona. No candidates whose names appear on the
ballot may serve as members of the Hand Count Board with the exception of the
office of Precinct Committeeman. (As you can see, every chance is given to the
political parties to fill their boards.)
5. Within 24 hours after the close of the election, the Political Party Chairmen meet at
the Elections Department Office to draw by lot the two precincts that they will audit,
and again by lot they choose the four or five races that will be tallied from each of
the two precincts. The Board will audit one race from each of the four or five
categories on the ballots. The five categories are: 1. Presidential Elector (General
Election only), 2. Statewide Candidate, 3. Statewide Ballot Measure, 4. Federal
Candidate, 5. State Legislative. At this time, they also determine the time and
location where the audit will take place.
6. On the day of the audit it is required that the proper number of party members show
up for the audit. The ballots and machine tapes from the two precincts are
delivered, sealed, to the audit site. The Board is sworn in under oath then given
instructions. Each party will witness the other.
7. This Board will run two separate audits. One is on the OS & TSX units which will
demonstrate whether the machines counted the races according to how the Voters
marked their ballots. The second audit concerns the early ballots and will
demonstrate whether the central count equipment recorded the early ballots
correctly as marked by the Voters.
8. Special tally sheets are provided so the audit board can keep a record of their
number counts. Depending on which precinct is drawn, the number of ballots can
be as many as 3,000 or more and each race will be tallied separately. You take
3,000 x 4 or 5 and you can see how this is not going to be a 2 hour job! Just
counting the ballots into piles of 10 and coming up with the correct number
becomes a chore!
9. When the ballots from both precincts and the 8 or 10 races have been tallied, the
numbers are compared to the final machine counts. If there is a difference in the
count in any of the races, it is revisited by the board and they determine what the
cause may be. The “human” Board may let “intent of the Voter” interfere with their
count where a machine cannot judge intent (this is why the Voter is instructed that
if they spoil their ballot to be sure and get a new ballot rather than try to write a
note, draw lines, etc.). There is a margin of error tolerance to account for Voter
intent error, but it is very minimal. Mohave County political parties have never
come close to the minimal error level - if they were to find errors above that level,
they would require a recount.
In the years the Political Party Audit Board has been conducting their audits, they
have never found the machines to have miscounted. Both parties have stated that
they feel confident in the recording of Mohave County Voters’ ballots and in the
election process conducted in our county. These two Audit Boards again demonstrate
the integrity strived for in Mohave County Elections.
I hope this has been informative and helps build a better understanding
of our election process and the security and precautions that are in
affect here in Mohave County!