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Provisional Voting

What is a provisional ballot?

A provisional ballot allows someone who thinks he or she is an eligible voter to vote. If the local board of elections determines that the provisional voter is registered and eligible to vote in Maryland and vote a provisional ballot, the ballot will be counted. If the voter is not eligible to vote a provisional ballot, the ballot may be rejected. A provisional ballot is not an alternative to the electronic voting system.

Provisional ballots are counted even if they will not change the outcome of an election.

Why might I have to vote a provisional ballot?

  • Election officials could not find your name on the list of voters where you went to vote. This usually happens because you are not registered to vote or you moved and did not update your address for voting.

            You are not eligible to vote on a voting unit because either:

    1. You moved, did not update your address for voting, and tried to vote at the polling place for your prior address.
    2. Our records show that you received an absentee ballot for this election or already voted in this election. If you have not already voted, election officials will count your provisional ballot. Voting or trying to vote more than once is against the law, and if you do this, election officials will refer you to law enforcement agencies for further investigation.

  • You did not provide ID when asked. You need to show ID because you are voting for the first time in Maryland and did not previously meet the ID requirements. For your ballot to count, provide ID to your local board of elections before 10 am on the 2nd Wednesday after election day. Acceptable forms of ID are:

    • A copy of a current and valid Maryland driver's license or MVA ID card, student, employee, or military ID, U.S. passport; or
    • A copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document with your name and current address (the same address you write on your provisional ballot application). Current means that the document is dated within 3 months of the election.

You did not provide your driver’s license number or the last four digits of your social security number on your voter registration form or we could not verify the number you provided. To finish your registration, provide an ID number or an ID to your local board of elections before 10 am on the 2nd Wednesday after election day. Acceptable forms of ID are listed above.

  • Someone challenged your right to vote. If your local board of elections determines that you are the person you say you are, your provisional ballot will count. You may wish to contact your local board of elections and provide ID.
  • A court ordered polling places to stay open late, and you voted during this time. When a court issues an order like this, all voters who vote during the extra hours must vote by provisional ballot. As long as the court order is upheld, your provisional ballot will count.

How do I vote by provisional ballot?

  1. An election official will give you a provisional ballot application.
  2. Complete and sign the application.
  3. The election judge will give you a provisional ballot.
  4. Fill in the oval to the left of each choice.
  5. Seal your voted ballot in the envelope that is part of the application.
  6. Put the envelope in the provisional ballot bag provided by the election judge.

If you have any questions about the process of voting your ballot, see an election judge.

Can someone help me vote my provisional ballot?

If you have a disability or cannot read or write, someone can help you. You can pick someone to help you, or two election officials can help you. The person you pick cannot be a candidate who is on your ballot, your employer or agent of your employer, an officer or agent of your union, or an accredited challenger or watcher.

The person helping you can fill out the application, sign it for you if you cannot sign it, and vote the ballot according to your instructions. Your helper cannot try to influence you and must sign a Certification of Person Assisting Voter. This form is provided by an election official.

Will my provisional ballot count?

Provisional ballots are reviewed and counted even if they will not change the outcome of an election. Election officials start counting provisional ballots on the 2nd Wednesday after each election. Your ballot will be counted if you are a registered voter, were eligible to vote by provisional ballot, and met any other applicable requirements (see above).

If you voted in the wrong county during early voting or at the wrong polling place on election day, only part of your provisional ballot will count. Election officials will count those contests or ballot questions that appear on the ballot where you live.

Will my votes be secret?

Yes. Your ballot will stay in the envelope until your local board of elections has reviewed your application. If your local board decides that your ballot should be counted, your ballot will be removed and immediately separated from your application so that your votes will be kept secret.

Can I find out if my ballot was counted?

Yes. You can use the voter look-up website to find out if your provisional ballot was counted and, if not, the reason why it was not counted. This information is available 10 days after election.