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Transcript: The Provisional Voting Process: An Overview

[Title: Maryland State Board of Elections. The Provisional Voting Process, an Overview]

Narrator: The provisional voting process, an overview. Heads up Maryland it’s that time again. During an election there are many methods to vote.

[Three methods of voting are displayed in the center of the screen. The first method on the left is labeled Absentee and depicts a voter’s hand holding a pen as he fills out an absentee ballot application. The second method, labeled Scanning Unit, depicts a woman at a polling place inserting a ballot into the ballot scanner. The third method labeled Provisional displays the provisional ballot application.

Narrator: Some voters will request an absentee ballot.

[There is a close up of a voter holding a pen as they begin to fill out an absentee ballot application.]

Narrator: Some will go to an early voting center during early voting or a polling place on election day.

[An election judge is sitting at a table ready to begin the voter check-in process. There is an electronic pollbook and a pen on the table in front of him. A voter approaches the election judge’s table. He smiles and greets the voter before picking up the electronic pollbook’s stylus. He asks her a few questions and begins tapping the screen of the electronic pollbook with the stylus to enter the voter’s information.]

Narrator: At the polling place, many voters will check in, mark their ballot and put their ballot in the scanner.

[The voter from the last scene approaches a DS200 ballot scanner. She’s holding a large folder, which is her ballot privacy sleeve. An election judge is standing near the ballot scanner and when she approaches, he takes a VAC, also known as a voter authority card, from a pocket attached to the voter’s ballot privacy sleeve. The election judge examines the voter’s VAC, points to the voter’s ballot and indicates that she can put it in the ballot scanner. The voter nods, steps forward and removes her ballot from the privacy sleeve as the election judge moves away to give her privacy. The voter feeds her ballot into the scanner.]

Narrator: However when some voters check into their polling place, they may have to vote provisionally.

[A provisional ballot application is displayed with the text of words spoken by the narrator.

Narrator: So what is provisional voting? A provisional ballot allows anyone to vote. However, their eligibility needs to be reviewed by the local election board. Why would you have to vote provisionally? Here are a few of the reasons a voter may have to vote provisionally.

You are a registered voter and you are not at your assigned polling place.

You moved more than twenty-one days before the election and didn’t notify election officials.

Your registration is pending.

A court ordered a polling place to stay open late and you voted during extended hours.

But do provisional ballots count?

All provisional ballots are reviewed by the local election board and counted even if they will not change the outcome of an election.

Some of the reasons your ballot may not count are:

  • You did not sign your application.
  • You are not registered to vote.
  • You voted the wrong primary ballot.

So what happens when you are at the polling place and you are told to vote provisionally?

[The screen transitions from the provisional ballot application back to the original polling place and seated election judge at the check-in area of the polling place.

Narrator: Let’s take a quick look at the process. Once you enter the polling place, you will check in with an election judge.

[A new voter approaches the election judge’s table. They speak briefly and the election judge uses a stylus to tap the screen of the electronic pollbook in order to enter the voter’s information.

Narrator: The election judge checking you in will explain why you have to vote provisionally.

[After entering the voter’s information, the election judge tells the voter that she has to vote provisionally. The voter looks surprised. The election judge begins to explain the process to her.]

Narrator: They will then print a voter authority card or VAC for short that you will sign and they will hand you an orange provisional privacy sleeve.

[A VAC prints from the electronic pollbook’s printer and the election judge removes the VAC once this process is finished. An example VAC is displayed. The VAC displays the following information. Voter Authority Card, Presidential General Election 2016. Provisional Ballot. Reason Code 2. It also includes information such as the voter’s Last Name, First Name, Address, date of birth, voter ID number, the voter’s registered party, the voter’s assigned district/precinct . In bold, there are the words Do Not Issue Regular Ballot. In addition, the VAC has the provisional ballot style, the time, date and issuer of the VAC and a dotted line labeled voter signature under directions asking the voter to sign below. At the bottom of the VAC are spaces for the check-in judge and provisional judge to initial the VAC.

The voter’s signature, highlighted by a green circle, appears on the VAC. In the background, the voter is signing the VAC.

The check in judge takes the signed VAC that he has also initialed and puts it in the pocket attached to the front of an orange provisional privacy sleeve.]

Narrator: You will be escorted to the provisional voting area by an election judge, where a provisional judge will help you through the provisional voting process.

[The check in judge hands the voter a provisional privacy sleeve with their VAC in the sleeve. Another election judge approaches the table, takes the provisional privacy sleeve from the voter and examines the VAC to verify that the voter is a provisional voter. The election judge then leads the voter away from the check in table and over to the provisional voting area.

The voter and the election judge approach a table with a seated provisional judge. The provisional ballot judge’s table has stacks of blank provisional ballot applications, unvoted ballots, pens, and storage envelopes. The voter sits at the available chair across from the provisional judge. The election judge that escorted the voter hands the provisional judge the voter’s provisional privacy sleeve before leaving the table.]

Narrator: The provisional judge will examine your VAC. A VAC tells the provisional judge why you are voting provisionally.

[The provisional judge removes the VAC from the provisional privacy sleeve’s pocket. A close up view of the signed VAC is displayed. An orange circle highlights the words provisional ballot reason code two which tells the provisional judge why the voter is voting provisionally. The provisional judge then initials their section of the VAC.]

Narrator: The provisional judge will then fill out their designated section on the back of the provisional ballot application.

[The provisional judge takes one provisional ballot application from a stack on the table. She turns it over so that she can write on the back of the application and begins to fill it out. A close up of the back of the provisional ballot application is displayed. The top of the page is labeled For Official Use Only. The document has three sections, one labeled Election Judge, the second labeled Election Director and the third labeled Board Action. The Election Judge section at the top third of the page is highlighted and a green arrow labeled Election Judge Section points to that area of the page.]

Narrator: The judge will then give you a provisional ballot application to fill out.

[The judge finishes filling out her section of the application and hands the voter the application and a pen. The judge flips open the first page of application instructions to show the voter where to start filling in her information]

Narrator: You will need to fill out the application completely, making sure to sign it. But be careful, if you do not sign the application, your ballot will not count.

[There is a close up of the application page that the voter must complete. It has three sections labeled part one Voter Information, part two Ballot Information and part three Signature. Part one of the voter application information asks the voter to fill out information such as their name, political party and mailing address. Part two is a section asking which election the voter is voting in and in the case of the primary, which ballot they choose to vote. For the primary, the type of ballot the voter chooses needs to match the political party they chose in part one of the application. Part three is the area where the voter will sign the application. A green circle appears around the application’s signature line. A green arrow points to this section.

The voter finishes filling out their application, signs it and hands the application back to the provisional judge.

Narrator: On the application, note there are instructions that you will get to tear off and keep.

[The provisional judge tears off the instructions page from the voter’s provisional ballot application and hands the instructions to the voter.]

Narrator: Once you’ve completed the application, the provisional judge will place a ballot inside your orange provisional privacy sleeve. They will also provide a pen. You will need to use the pen that the provisional judge provides.

[The provisional judge places the application and an unvoted ballot into the provisional privacy sleeve. The judge hands the voter the provisional privacy sleeve and a pen.]

Narrator: Next, you will escorted to an area where you can vote the ballot in private.

[The voter gets up and leaves the provisional voting table to vote their ballot in a privacy booth. She sits down and places her ballot on the table within the three sided protective shield of the privacy booth.]

Narrator: As a provisional voter, your ballot will not go through the scanner.

[As the voter marks the ballot, an image of a ballot scanner appears and an x is drawn through the scanner to indicate that it is not used to scan provisional ballots.]

Narrator: While marking your ballot, if you make a mistake, the provisional judge will tell you to over-vote the ballot, which means filling in every contest.

[A close up of a ballot is displayed. A mark appears showing an attempt by the voter to fill in the oval, but the mark strays very far outside of the oval. Then all of the ovals are shown filled in to demonstrate over voting the ballot.]

Narrator: They will then ask you to write spoiled across the ballot and you will be issued a new ballot.

[The word spoiled appears diagonally in large letters across the over-voted ballot. The scene shifts to the voter getting up and returning to the provisional voting area with her spoiled ballot. The voter sits in the chair and takes her spoiled ballot from the privacy sleeve and hands it to the provisional judge.]

Narrator: The provisional judge will then take your spoiled ballot and securely store it, because every ballot spoiled, voted and unvoted must be accounted for.

[The provisional judge places the spoiled ballot into an envelope to secure the ballot. Then, the judge places an unvoted ballot into the voter’s provisional privacy sleeve and returns the privacy sleeve to the voter. The voter returns to the privacy booth to mark their ballot. She sits down at the booth and marks her selections behind the privacy shield.]

Narrator: Once done, you will seal your voted ballot in the provisional ballot application envelope.

[A close up of the voter’s completed ballot application with attached envelope is displayed on the left and the voter’s completed ballot on the right. The provisional ballot application has a flap that is labeled Insert Ballot In Envelope in bold letters and is currently open. The voted ballot is placed in the application envelope and the seal closed over the opening. After sealing her envelope, the voter returns to the provisional ballot judge.]

Narrator: Then the provisional judge will instruct you to drop it into the orange provisional bag.

[The provisional judge picks up the orange provisional bag as the voter removes her sealed ballot envelope from the provisional privacy sleeve.

The judge holds the narrow open end of the bag and angles it towards the voter and the voter drops her sealed ballot envelope into the orange provisional bag.

The judge shakes the bag a little to ensure the envelope falls securely to the bottom of the bag. The judge then zips the bag closed.]

Narrator: Before you leave, don’t forget to take the application instructions with you. That’s it!

[The voter says goodbye to the judge and takes the provisional ballot application instructions with her as she leaves the provisional voting area. The judge sets the orange provisional bag down and waits for the next provisional voter.]

Narrator: How will you know if your vote counted? You can check to see if your vote counted approximately ten days after election day. Use the contact information at the bottom back page of the application instructions.

[A close up of the application instructions is displayed. There are sections of the application labeled in bold that give general information. The sections answer questions such as:

  • Can someone help me vote?
  • How do I fill out the application?
  • How do I vote the ballot?
  • What do I do next?
  • Will my votes be secret?
  • Can I find out if my ballot was counted?

The section labeled Can I find out if my ballot was counted is then highlighted with a green circle. The Maryland State Board of Elections web address – is displayed along with a contact phone number, 1-800-222-8683.

Narrator: If you have additional questions, you can contact your local election board or the Maryland State Board of Elections at 410-269-2840 or 800-222 -8683.

You can reach the Maryland State Board of Elections by email at