Election Day 2020: What to do if you’re asked to vote a provisional ballot at Tampa Bay polls

Election 2020

FILE – In this Oct. 20, 2020 file photo, Kelly Wingfield, of Urbandale, Iowa, fills out his ballot during early voting in the general election, in Adel, Iowa. County election boards have started counting a record number of absentee ballots in Iowa, racing toward a Tuesday night, Nov. 3 deadline to have those votes tabulated. Nearly 956,000 people had sent in their ballots by mail, dropped them off at auditor’s offices or voted early in person as of Monday, morning Nov. 2. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — What happens if your eligibility is questioned at the polls on Election Day? Instead of turning you away, elections officials will ask you to vote a provisional ballot. 8 On Your Side looked into what to do in this case to make sure your vote is counted.

A small number of Floridians will be asked to vote on a provisional ballot. But in a razor-thin race, provisional ballots could still play a key role in the election.

First, you can likely avoid being asked to vote a provisional ballot on Election Day if you go to your assigned polling place and you bring one or two forms of current identification that include your signature and photo.

“In Florida, it has to be a photo and signature identification and it doesn’t have to be on the same piece of identification,” Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer said. “Passports, military ID, student IDs, government IDs.”

But what if a poll worker still questions or challenges your eligibility? That’s when a provisional ballot comes in.

“There’s a lot of people that think provisional ballots are bad. They’re not, they’re good,” said Latimer.

Latimer says you fill out the ballot, but it will not go in the tabulator. Instead, you put the provisional ballot in a secrecy envelope and then fill out and sign the outside.

“As soon as we get it back to our office, we’re going to compare the signature against the signature that we have on file,” said Latimer. “If for some reason it didn’t match, then you’re going to need to supply us with further identification and a cure probably.”

So how would a voter know if there’s an issue with their provisional ballot?

This is key.

Unlike signature issues on a mail-ballot, your elections supervisor will not contact you about signature issues on a provisional ballot. It is up to you to check the status of your provisional ballot online.

“Everybody that fills out a provisional ballot is given a stub with a ticket number on it and they can go online, they put that information in along with their information and it’ll tell them what the status is,” Latimer explained.

But you don’t have long to check. You must cure your ballot by Thursday, Nov. 5 at 5 p.m.

Latimer says most provisional ballots are counted if you go to the right polling place.

“The only time it’s not going to be counted is if you’re not a registered voter or you’re in the wrong polling place and you refuse to go to the right polling place and insist on voting,” he said. “We’re not going to get in an argument with you, we’re going to let you vote a provisional ballot.”

Again, you must go to your assigned precinct Election Day.

If you run into any issues on Election Day, email Investigator Mahsa Saeidi at MSaeidi@WFLA.com

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