ATLANTA — As Georgia's primary voting day devolved in parts of metro Atlanta and beyond into dysfunction, many were left with no choice but to fill out provisional paper ballots.
Under established Georgia voting regulations, provisional ballots are to be used mostly when something is off with your voter status or information.
The Georgia Secretary of State's Office outlines three scenarios for their use in the official state voter guide; none of them cover what happened yesterday. The primary voting issues that put Georgia in the national spotlight included allegedly malfunctioning machines, improper operating of machines or machines missing altogether due to delivery failures, which prompted some precincts to have no choice but to issue provisional ballots.
Under the established guidelines, you usually have three days to clear up your voting status or information and your vote will then be counted. Under these circumstances, it's not clear how the secretary of state's office will consider the ballots - 11Alive has reached out for clarification on the matter.
UPDATE: The secretary of state's office tells us, "The ballots used yesterday when the voting machine system was unavailable were counted automatically."
Gwinnett County officials also told us that the ballots used when machines weren't available (in their case, because of delivery issues at some precincts) were to be automatically counted.
If you want to check on your provisional ballot status, there are a couple things you can do to see if your vote gets counted.
- My Voter Page website: One way you can try is by logging in at the Georgia My Voter Page site. Among the things it says you can access once you log in are "Provisional Ballot status." To log in you need to input your first initial, last name, your county and your birth date, and it should bring up your information. You do not need to register a specific account - if you're in the voting system, you're in this site's system.
- You can try calling your local election office: This issue came up during the 2018 elections, as well, and at that time the secretary of state's office said: "If you want to check the status of your provisional ballot, you must contact your county election and registration office." This web page listing county phone numbers and emails on the secretary of state website was established for the 2018 elections, but most counties' phone numbers or emails shouldn't have changed since then.
- You can contact voting rights groups who may be able to help: The Stacey Abrams-founded group Fair Fight Action is asking voters who had difficult experiences to share them here and you can call their voter protection hotline at 888-730-5816.