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League of Women Voters

California Provisional Voting

You may be asked to vote a provisional ballot at the polls due to one of the following reasons:

  • Your name is not on the official roster of voters and the election officer cannot verify your voting eligibility on Election Day. The elections official's office will then check the registration records. If further research determines that you are eligible to vote in the election, the provisional ballot will be counted.
  • You have moved within the county, but did not re-register to vote. The elections official will verify your prior registration before the provisional ballot will be counted. Your registration will then be updated with your current address.
  • Records indicate that you requested an absentee ballot and you fail to turn in the absentee ballot at the polls on Election Day. The election official's office will check the records, and if you did not vote an absentee ballot, your provisional ballot will be counted.
  • You are a first-time federal election voter in the county and were unable to provide the required proof of identification. The elections official's office will verify your eligibility to vote by comparing the signature on your registration with the signature on the provisional ballot envelope.

Provisional ballots are counted during the official canvass when:

  • Prior to the completion of the official canvass (the vote tally), the elections official's office establishes, from voter registration records, your right to vote the ballot.
  • Or by order of the Superior Court in the county of your residence, you seek a court order to require that your ballot be counted, at any time prior to the completion of the official canvass. Any judicial action or appeal shall have priority over all other civil matters.

The Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) requires each state or local elections official to establish a "Free Access System," such as a toll-free telephone number for voters to call or an internet website that you can access free of charge, to ascertain whether or not your provisional vote was counted, and, if it was not counted, the reason why it was not counted. For information about how to access each county's Provisional Voting Free Access System, please visit your state's resource.

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