Provisional Voting: Fail-Safe Voting Or Trapdoor To Disenfranchising Voters

Advancement Project by Advancement Project

Today, Advancement Project released “Provisional Voting: Fail-Safe Voting or Trapdoor to Disenfranchising Voters.” This report explores whether the administration of elections─ specifically in the area of provisional voting─ has improved since the 2000 presidential election, when scores of eligible voters were turned away from the polls because their names did not appear on voter registration rolls, resulting in the disenfranchisement of a significant number of American voters. In particular, the investigation, research, and analysis of provisional voting in the report focuses on select counties in Ohio and Florida during the 2006 general elections.
The goal of this report is to highlight the recurring need to reform provisional balloting implementation and other election administration procedures so that no voter is wrongfully disfranchised in 2008 and future elections.
Key findings of the report show:

   1. Flaws in the Voter Registration Process and Voter Registration Records Resulted in the Overuse of Provisional Voting and the Rejection of Ballots Cast by Eligible Voters.
   2. Misinterpretation and Misapplication of the “Wrong” Precinct Rule Resulted in the Disenfranchisement of Voters.
   3. The Provisional Voting Process Is Fraught with Confusion, Errors, and Misinformation.
   4. The Provisional Voting Process Is Not Scrutinized or Transparent, Resulting in Continued Problems.

Advancement Project’s report makes several key recommendations to reduce the over-reliance and over-use of provisional ballots in Florida and Ohio.

    * Reduce the Use of Provisional Voting, in the First Instance, by Eliminating Barriers to Voter Registration.
    * Eliminate the “Wrong” Precinct Rule.
    * Improve Poll Worker Training.
    * Improve the Administration of Provisional Voting on Election Day.
    * Increase the Scrutiny and Transparency of the Provisional Voting Process.

The report methodology included requesting, and to varying degrees receiving, specific data on the provisional ballots cast in particular jurisdictions, including the names of voters who cast provisional ballots, the reasons such ballots were cast, whether they were counted, and, if not counted, the reasons for their rejection. Advancement Project also requested copies of the provisional ballot envelopes in these jurisdictions, which provided additional details from poll workers and voters as to the circumstances under which individual provisional ballots were cast.

To download a copy of the report click here.

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