Provisional ballots gained more notoriety after the Georgia gubernatorial debate between Secretary of State Brian Kemp and Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams on Oct. 23 in which the issue of voter purges was raised. Provisional voting ensures that all eligible voters can cast a ballot, even if their eligibility cannot be immediately confirmed on Election Day.

There are a few situations in which you would need a provisional ballot. Not having a photo ID on your person is a large reason why many people use them.  A person’s voter registration being outdated or inaccurate, or someone showing up the the wrong polling precinct are both common reasons for provisional ballot use.

The process of provisional voting is fairly similar to the regular one, but you will have to fill out a provisional registration form at your local board of elections. The ballot is almost identical to the normal ballot, but you will also receive a document that instructs you how to find out if your vote has been counted. If you provide the board with a physical address, they can mail you this information.

Former Athens-Clarke County Board of Elections member and radio talk show host, Rick Dunn, commented on the timeline you have to return to your board of elections with identification, “You have 72 hours to come to the board of elections with documentation to verify your reason for improperly voting, or your vote won’t count. … They’ll just throw it out.”

It is important to return to your board of elections within 72 hours with one of these forms of identification.

  • Drivers license (if it’s a Georgia license it can be expired, but if it’s from another state it must be valid)
  • Passort
  • State ID
  • Tribal ID
  • Military ID
  • School ID
  • Gun License

Provisional voting when done properly can provide individuals a chance to make their vote count.

Sage Barnard is a senior majoring in journalism.


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