What Is Provisional Voting?

Occasionally, some people must vote provisionally. You are able to cast a ballot, but we need to check up on your voting history before we can count your ballot. Vote center workers might not be able to to resolve an issue on the spot, and they need our office to help out. Provisional voting is a stopgap that protects both voters’ rights and the integrity of the election in two main ways:

  1. Provisional voting ensures that no properly registered voter is turned away and denied their right to vote due to a clerical, processing, computer, or other error.
  2. Provisional voting allows elections officials to ensure that no voter votes twice in a given election, either intentionally or inadvertently.

Common Reasons to Vote Provisionally

There are two main ways to vote provisionally. The first is a process called Conditional Voter Registration. The second is a traditional Provisional Ballot.

Conditional Voter Registration is available to people who need to register or re-register, but missed the regular deadline. Conditional Voter Registration allows you to vote and register at the same time. To ensure the integrity of the election, we have these voters place their ballot in a Conditional Voter Registration envelope so that we can verify that the voter is not registered elsewhere, did not already vote, and is otherwise eligible. We count the vast majority of these ballots.

In a vote center county like Nevada, there are not many reasons for voters to a traditional Provisional Ballot. Our vote center workers have access to the Nevada County voter registration database, which makes real-time updates to voters’ registration and participation history. We know whether you have cast a ballot by mail or in person at any location. If you must vote provisionally, we will let you know why so that you can make an informed decision.

Reasons to vote provisionally in Nevada County are:

  • The voter already voted
  • The voter does not live in Nevada County
  • The vote center is unable to access the voter registration database
  • The voter is not registered and refuses to complete a Conditional Voter Registration
  • The voter registered for the first time online, does not have an acceptable form of identification, and refuses to complete a Conditional Voter Registration (rare)
  • The vote center is open past the closing of polls by court order (rare)

What to Expect

If you are required to vote provisionally, you will receive an envelope and the ballot that you are otherwise entitled to receive, based on your Nevada County residence address. 

Please complete the provisional envelope completely and seal your voted ballot inside it. You must have your name, residential address, and signature on the envelope, or our office will be unable to count your ballot.

You will be unable to scan your ballot at the polls. It must be placed inside the envelope so that our office can confirm your eligibility and count your vote.

How Provisional Ballots Are Processed

For every provisional ballot that we receive, we verify the following:

  • The voter is who they claim to be
  • The voter resides in Nevada County and is otherwise qualified to vote
  • The voter did not already vote in the current election

We count all valid provisional ballots during the post-election canvas period. Voters may refer to our office to check the status of their provisional ballot and, if it was not counted, know the reason why.

For further information about voting provisionally, please refer to the Secretary of State's website about provisional voting http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/voting-resources/provisional-voting/