WASHINGTON — We are four days out from the presidential election and people still have some questions about ballots.
Specifically, provisional ballots. What are they, and how are they counted?
We got an email to our Verify inbox that asked about provisional ballots. The viewer wanted to know if they are counted in Virginia if the race isn’t close.
Does the state of Virginia count provisional ballots if the race isn’t close?
Yes. The state counts every vote.
Judy Brown, Director of Elections for Loudoun County, and Tammy Patrick, an elections expert from The Democracy Fund.
First, we wanted to explain what is a provisional ballot?
“We often refer to provisional ballots as a safety net for voters,” Tammy Patrick said. “So that if you were canceled in error off of the voter rolls, or your application had a problem with it that didn't get resolved before Election Day [you can still vote].”
Tammy Patrick explained how it works. You go to vote at a polling place, but your name isn’t on the voter roll. The poll workers will let you fill out a provisional ballot, which looks the same as a standard ballot
“It's just a question of the authentication that you were in fact an eligible voter and should have that ballot be counted,” Patrick said.
On to the question at hand: Will the state of Virginia count provisional ballots if the election isn’t close?
“Yes, we always count every ballot, regardless of how close the election is, every vote counts,” Judy Brown explained.
So, we can verify, yes, the state of Virginia will count every provisional ballot-as long as the voter can be authenticated.