Provisional Ballots
Although the question of how provisional ballots should be counted was a hot topic and the subject of many lawsuits leading up to the 2004 presidential election, many states have been using provisional ballots for years with little controversy.  Today, as one of the provisions of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), all states are required to have provisional ballots available for voters to use.

A provisional ballot is a ballot a voter casts on Election Day when that voter's name does not appear on the voter rolls. These ballots are for all intents and purposes the same as regular ballots, except they are not automatically counted on Election Day. Instead, they are kept separate from the other ballots until election officials can determine that the voter who cast the provisional ballot is actually eligible to vote.

In recent years, legal battles have erupted about how provisional ballots should be counted. While some states  count provisional ballots cast in the wrong voting precinct, others demand that all votes be cast in the correct precinct to count. In some instances, counties in the same state set different requirements for provisional ballots.  The universal usage of provisional ballots will enable more voters to cast a ballot, but it is essential that policies concerning the counting of ballots are uniform.
County Chair Finds That Own Ballot Was Rejected
Washington Hand Recount Continues
Published December 13th 2004 in Channel 6 News New Orleans

SEATTLE -- To King County Council Chairman Larry Phillips, the question of whether to reconsider rejected ballots in the election for Washington governor is more than academic.

Phillips was checking the names of constituents whose votes had been rejected and discovered his own name on the list.

Phillips says he thought he did everything right when he voted. "If it can happen to the King County Council chairman, it can happen to anyone else," he said. Officials say Phillips' absentee ballot apparently was yanked for lack of a signature on file with the county elections office.

Rejected ballots could loom large in the manual recount of ballots. An initial tally showed republican Dino Rossi defeating democrat Christine Gregoire by 261 votes, and a machine recount cut his margin of victory to 42 votes.

The state Supreme Court is hearing a Democratic Party move to order that rejected ballots be reconsidered by county canvassing boards. Republicans are resisting the move, which state election officials say could delay the recount into next year.

Without reconsideration of rejected ballots, officials have said the hand recount should be done by Christmas