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.
Bill Would Improve Voting Standards
A Committee Passed an Amendment Altering Election Day Voting Requirements.

By Rowena Vergara
Published March 22nd 2005 in Minnesota Daily
The Minnesota Senate Elections Committee passed an amendment Monday that would make voting requirements for college students easier and more efficient come Election Day.

The amendment will be sent to the Senate floor for a vote.

“Most college students have a cell phone bill, and anything that can facilitate anyone to come out to vote is a good thing,” said economics junior Ian McLellan, vice president of Students Against Political Ignorance.

Currently, the acceptable forms of identification include a Minnesota state ID or driver’s license, a utility bill or lease from one’s place of residency and a bank statement or government check, said Sen. Linda Higgins, DFL-Minneapolis, the bill’s chief author.

The bill’s voter requirements would also give students the option of submitting their personal voter identification information to the county where they live.

The personal information would include the voter’s name, age and address.

A list would then be generated to keep track of the addresses of college students, regardless of whether they were residents or nonresidents of Minnesota.

The University will give students authorization forms to sign for the release of their personal information. The county cannot receive students’ personal information without those forms.

Sen. Dave Kleis, R-St. Cloud, agreed with the bill, saying students should have the right to vote on issues that affect them as students in a college community.

“You should vote where you live, and for four years, they are living at their college address,” he said.

An election judge could verify a college student’s residency and identification by using this list.

The submitted personal information would be available to the public, just like voter registration information of permanent state residents, Higgins said.

Kent Ortner, president of Students Against Political Ignorance, said the new requirements will definitely increase voter turnout.

“My friends did not vote, because they didn’t know how to get registered,” said Ortner, who is a junior at the University.

Sen. John Marty, DFL-Roseville, said there are “thousands of excuses” a college student can make to not vote.

“The fewer barriers you put in there, the better for voter participation,” he said.