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Alameda County, CA,

Provisional Ballot FAQ's

  • What is a Provisional Ballot?
  • A provisional ballot is a regular ballot that is put inside of a provisional envelope. The voter fills out name and current address on the envelope and signs it. After the polls close, the ballot is returned to the election office, where the information on the envelope is verified against the voter registration records. If the information that the voter has written on the envelope matches the information on the voter registration record, then the ballot is removed from the envelope and counted just like any other ballot.
  • On Election Day, the poll worker asked me to vote a provisional ballot even though I am a registered voter. Why?
  • Perhaps your name was not on the Roster of voters at the polling place where you went to vote. If you want to vote a regular ballot on Election Day, you must go to your assigned precinct where your name will be on the Roster of voters. If the poll worker can't find your name on the Roster, he or she will ask you to put your ballot inside of a provisional envelope and fill in the information requested on the envelope.
  • Who must vote a provisional ballot?
  • The following voters will be asked to put their ballot inside of a provisional envelope:
    • Voters who have moved into a new precinct and have not updated their registration to the new address.
    • Voters whose names are not on the Roster where they go to vote.
    • Voters who have registered by mail, but did not provide a CA drivers license number or CA ID number when they registered.
    • Voters who return their absentee ballots to the polls without an envelope.
    • Voters who have applied to vote by mail, but do not have their ballot to turn in when they go to the polls.
    • Voters who register too late for their names to be printed on the Roster. Too late is 29 days before the election.
  • What if I go to the wrong polling place and have to vote a provisional ballot: will my ballot still be counted?
  • All of the contests and measures for which you are eligible to vote had you gone to your correct polling place will be counted. Contests and measures for which you are not eligible to vote will not be counted.
  • I have heard that provisional ballots are not counted. Is this true?
  • This is not true. If a voter is qualified to vote and votes provisionally, his or her ballot will be counted.