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