Should you ask for a "provisional ballot with a receipt" if you are challenged at the polls?




Sarah Jackel- General Counsel at

Georgia's Office of Secretary of State State Elections Division- Voter Information Guide

Help American Vote Act of 2002 Section 302

Fallon McClure- Georgia Director at Spread the Vote

Rules and Regulations of the State of Georgia- Rule 183-1-12-.06 Provisional Ballots

Ballotpedia- "State by State Provisional Ballot Laws"


Midterm elections are just two weeks away, and a voting top is already catching fire on Twitter.

So if you're challenged by a poll worker, should you request a provisional ballot?

According to the Help America Vote Act of 2002--you definitely should. Under Section 203- if you are an eligible voter registering in your jurisdiction, you should ask for a provisional ballot even if you're not on the poll book and don't have your ID with you.

"The individual shall be permitted to cast a provisional ballot at that polling place upon the execution of a written affirmation by the individual before an election official at the polling place stating that the individual is (A) a registered voter in the jurisdiction in which the individual desires to vote; and (B) eligible to vote in that election," the federal law says.

Sarah Jackel, General Counsel at, wholeheartedly agrees, voting provisionally is a no-brainer.

"It is true. Provisional ballots are required by federal law if you show up to vote on election day and you're not on the voter rolls, or there's some question about your eligibility to vote, or you don't have the proper ID to vote, you should request a provisional ballot," Sarah Jackel, General Counsel at, said. "Your local election official is required to furnish one to cast, as well as a receipt."

The law goes on to say that an official must provide the voter with a receipt of their ballot, which the voter can use to find out whether their vote was counted.

"At the time that an individual casts a provisional ballot, the appropriate State or local election official shall give the individual written information that states that any individual who casts a provisional ballot will be able to ascertain under the system established...whether the vote was counted, and, if the vote was not counted, the reason that the vote was not counter," the law says.

"I think many people don't know that they are entitled to cast a provisional ballot and that [poll workers] are often volunteers and they don't even always know the ins-and-outs and the particularities of state law," Jackel said.

In Georgia, your provisional ballot will count if the voting eligibility issues are resolved within three days after Election Day.

"You have a right to ask for a provisional ballot," Fallon McClure, Director of Spread the Vote, said. "They have to give you written instructions on how to cure the issue."

According to state law, "each voter casting a provisional ballot in a primary, election, or runoff in which federal candidates appear on the ballot shall be given written information explaining how such voter can ascertain if such ballot is counted and, if such ballot is not counted, the reason why such ballot was not counted."

McClure also recommends taking advantage of early voting to have an opportunity to correct any registration or ID issues.

If you request a provisional ballot because you are unable to show correct ID when voting in person, you have three days from the close of the polls to present correct identification to election officials to validate your vote.

The following excerpt from the Secretary of State's website further explains provisional ballots:

"If you vote a provisional ballot because you did not have acceptable identification, you will have three days from the close of the polls to present acceptable identification to your county registrar office for your vote to count. If you voted a provisional ballot because your name did not appear on the list of registered voters in the precinct, the county registrar has up to three days after the election to determine if you were properly registered to vote in that election. If you were, your vote will count. If you were not eligible to vote in that election, your vote will not be counted, and you will be notified in writing. If you were eligible to vote but voted in the wrong precinct, only the votes for candidates for which you were entitled to vote will be counted, and you will be notified in writing that your ballot was partially counted for your correct precinct."

You can check your provisional ballot status by logging into the Georgia My Voter Page.

So we can Verify, yes, if a poll worker challenges you at a voting station, you can ask for a provisional ballot.

There are some states that DO NOT let you vote provisionally.