How do provisional ballots work? Here’s what you need to know

SPALDING COUNTY, Ga. — Many people had to vote provisionally in Spalding County after a major voting issue shot down machines.

Channel 2 investigative reporter Nicole Carr was in Spalding County the learn more about how provisional ballots work.

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Voters are traditionally required to vote on a provisional ballot if officials can’t verify the voter’s registration or the voter can’t show proper identification. In those cases, the voter casts a paper ballot instead and has a three-day window to resolve the issue.

The three-day window after Election Day gives voters and county election officials the time to cross-check identifications and registrations.

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But paper ballots are also issued when an issue arises like the one in Spalding County this Election Day.

When the voting machine tech issues hit Spalding County precincts, hundreds of voters had to cast provisional ballots.

It worried some voters, like Wilbert Blackman.


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“I don’t know if my vote is going to be counted or not,” Blackman said.

Blackman doesn’t need to worry: His vote will be counted. Because there was a problem with the machines -- not verification -- the paper ballots will be scanned through an emergency system Tuesday evening.

Provisional ballots filled out for traditional reasons will be manually tabulated by Friday. The only reason a ballot would not be counted is if the problem is unresolved, which the voter would be informed about in writing, according to the state’s election website.

If someone voted in the wrong precinct, the provisional ballot can be partially counted for the candidates that the voter was eligible to vote for, like the President.

Anyone with concerns can check on the state election site My Voter Page to ensure that your ballot has been counted.