Provisional Ballots – Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is a provisional ballot?

A: Sometimes, county election officials will question voter eligibility. This means they don’t know if you meet the conditions needed to vote at their polling station. A provisional ballot is a ballot that records your vote while election officials determine whether you’re an eligible voter and whether your vote should be counted.  

Q: Why would I need to use a provisional ballot?

A: Hopefully, you won’t. But if someone does challenge your voter eligibility at your polling place, a provisional ballot is a safeguard that ensures your voice will still be heard.

Q: Why would an election official challenge my eligibility to vote?

A: There are many reasons that one may be required to submit a provisional ballot, such as not having ID or not being found in the poll book. The reason could be as simple as an election official decided to challenge your eligibility. Despite Pennsylvania not having any competency requirements for voting, some poll workers may misguidedly try to stop you from voting based on your disability. This is illegal and should always be reported, but as an immediate solution you can request a provisional ballot. Regardless of why your eligibility is in question, you have a right to record your vote.1

Q: How will I know if my vote is counted?

A: You will receive a provisional ballot identification receipt that you must keep after casting your provisional ballot. The identification number on this receipt will allow you to see whether your vote is counted.

Q: How long does it take to know if my ballot has been counted?

A: You can search your ballot identification number seven days after the election.2 If your vote was not counted, you can also find out why at the link above.