Provisional Voting in North Carolina

 A provisional ballot is offered to voters when there are questions about:

  • a voter's qualification to vote,

  • the voter’s eligibility to vote in a given election, or

  • the voter’s eligibility to vote a specific ballot style.

Provisional voting is a mechanism by which a citizen is guaranteed the opportunity to cast a ballot in the event that such questions have been raised. In that case, the citizen is permitted to cast a provisional ballot, which is held aside pending research into the issue to be resolved. Findings are presented to the county board members, who make final determinations. Election results are not finalized until all provisional ballots that are eligible have been included in the total count.

 Provisional voting is fail-safe voting. State law mandates that each person who presents to vote be given that opportunity, whether by regular or provisional ballot. In no circumstance will a voter be turned away.


Provisional Procedures

If there is an indication at the check-in station that the voter will be unable to vote a regular ballot, he or she will be directed to the Help Station to receive guidance on casting a provisional ballot. The voter will be given a Help Referral Form that will explain the reason for the referral to the Help Station.


Provisional Voting Packet

An election official at the Help Station will help the voter complete a Provisional Voting Application and will provide a provisional ballot and envelope.  The voter will be instructed to vote the ballot in private, to seal the completed ballot in the provisional envelope and return the sealed envelope to the Help Station.


Provisional Voter Instructions

Each provisional voter will be given a Provisional Identification Number (PIN) to use along with his or her date of birth to check the status of the application. (This status will not be available earlier than 10 days after the date of the election.)

The election official will also inform the voter of any additional steps required to will permit the board of elections to approve the provisional application. For example, if the provisional ballot was triggered for failure to present acceptable ID under the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), the election official will inform the voter to bring or send the ID to the board of elections office no later than the close of business on the day before the county canvass (5:00 p.m. on 11/17/2016) to show an acceptable type of HAVA ID to an election official. The official will also provide the specific date by which the voter must appear at the board of elections office for the ballot to be counted.

To check the status of a provisional vote, a voter may:

  1. Online: Provisional Ballot Lookup
  2. Call (919) 733-7173 or (866) 522-4723
  3. Call your local county board of elections office

Provisional Process

All provisional envelopes are returned to a county board of elections.  County board of elections staff research the issues underlying the provisional applications and provide the results of their investigations to the members of the county board of elections.   No election results are finalized until the determination of the statuses of the provisional ballots have been made.  If a provisional application is approved, the voter’s provisional ballot is removed from the sealed envelope and the ballot is counted or, if applicable, partially counted.   Ballots are only partially counted if a provisional voter was not entitled to vote for all of the contests on the ballot. If a provisional application is not approved, the ballot remains sealed in the provisional envelope.

Provisional Voting Reasons

No Record of Registration

A voter’s record of registration cannot be found in the voter registration list at the time the voter presents to vote.

Unreported Move

A voter provides an address within the county of registration that is different from the voter's current registered address and the voter has indicated that the move to the new address occurred 30 or more days prior to Election Day.

Previously Removed

A voter was previously registered in the county but the registration was cancelled. A voter's registration may be cancelled due to any number of reasons (moved within state; moved to another state; felony conviction; removed due to list maintenance; sustained challenge; deceased, etc.).

No Acceptable ID

A voter does not present acceptable identification under the Help America Vote Act (HAVA).

Unrecognized Address

An election official is unable to locate a voter’s address in the county’s street lookup files.

Incorrect Precinct

The incorrect precinct provisional voting reason must be used when a voter is requesting to vote at a polling place on election day that is not the polling place for the voter’s proper precinct. The voter’s proper precinct is the precinct assigned to the voter based on residential address 30 or more days prior to election day.

Incorrect Party

During a partisan primary, a voter insists upon voting a ballot for a party other than the party of the voter's affiliated party.

Voter Already Voted

A voter’s record indicates that the voter who is presenting to vote has already cast a ballot in the election.

Jurisdiction Dispute

A voter presents to vote and has no eligible ballot style or the voter requests to vote for an election contest that is not in the voter's assigned voting district based on his or her legal voting residence.

Voted During Extended Hours

The hours for voting are extended by the State Board of Elections or a court order.