Q1. What is a provisional ballot and why are they necessary?
A1. A provisional ballot is a ballot provided to a voter whose eligibility to vote is not immediately established on Election Day. Provisional voting ensures that every qualified and registered voter has the opportunity to vote a ballot that will be counted on Election Day.
For example, when voters arrive at the polling place on Election Day, the election judges check the poll book (a list of all of the jurisdiction's registered voters), to confirm that the voter is properly registered and at the correct polling place. Prior to provisional voting, if a person's name was not in the poll book, they were not allowed to vote. With provisional voting, a voter whose name is not found in the poll book on Election Day is given a provisional ballot. Provisional ballots ensure that no voter is turned away from the polls. After Election Day, the election official will evaluate the voter’s eligibility to determine whether the ballot should be counted.
Q2. Why would I be asked to vote a provisional ballot?
A2. The most common reasons for this are:
- You are not in your home precinct
- Your name is not in the poll book
- Our records show that you voted by mail or in early voting
- You did not show the required identification
- You moved within the state, but did not update your address
Q3. When are provisional ballots counted?
A3. Provisional ballots are verified and counted after regular and mail-in ballots. Counting must be completed no later than 10 days after a Primary Election and 14 days after a General Election.
Q4. How are provisional ballots verified?
A4. County clerk and recorders review the information provided on the provisional ballot affidavit form and use the following databases to research provisional voters’ eligibility:
- State of Colorado statewide voter registration database
- Colorado Department of Corrections Felon database
- Colorado DMV Motor Voter database
Q5. What if someone votes a provisional ballot in two separate counties?
A5. It is a crime to cast two ballots. If a county clerk and recorder finds that a voter has voted two provisional ballots, they will refer the matter to the appropriate District Attorney or to the Colorado Attorney General for investigation and prosecution.
Q6. What if someone votes twice?
A6. It is a crime to cast two ballots. If a county clerk and recorder finds that a voter has voted twice, they will refer the matter to the appropriate District Attorney or to the Colorado Attorney General for investigation and prosecution.
Q7. Do I still have to fill out an application to receive a provisional ballot?
A7. Yes. To vote a provisional ballot you will be required to complete a provisional ballot affidavit that includes a voter registration form.
Q8. Will I be registered to vote if I fill out a provisional ballot affidavit form?
A8. Yes. A provisional ballot affidavit is treated as a registration application for the next election, regardless of whether the provisional ballot is counted, as long as the affidavit contains all the required information and you are eligible to register.
Q9. Do provisional ballots count?
A9. If you complete the provisional ballot affidavit and your eligibility to vote is confirmed, your provisional ballot will be counted. Please note, if you appear to vote in the wrong precinct in your county, and you choose to vote a provisional ballot rather than go to your correct polling location, only federal and statewide races and issues would be counted.
Q10. How do I know if my provisional ballot was counted?
A10. The election judge will give you a receipt when you cast a provisional ballot. This receipt provides information on how you may determine the status of your provisional ballot.
Authority: 42 USC 15482, Sec. 302; Section 1-8.5-101, C.R.S.; section 1-8.5-112, C.R.S.; and Colorado Secretary of State Election Rule 26.