Pennsylvania: Every Vote Counts

Provisional Ballots

When are voters given provisional ballots?

According to the Pennsylvania Department of State’s office, voters should only be offered a provisional ballot for one of the following reasons:

  • The voter’s name does not appear in the poll book and election officials cannot determine the voter’s registration status;
  • The voter is voting in an election district for the first time and does not have an approved ID;
  • An election official asserts that the voter is not eligible to vote;
  • The voter is voting as a result of a federal or state judicial order;
  • The voter is voting as a result of an order extending the time established for closing the polls.
  • The voter was issued an absentee or mail in ballot and has not returned the ballot, or is unsure whether the ballot will be received in time.
How are provisional ballots counted?

Within 7 days after the election, the county board of elections will decide whether you were eligible to vote at the election district where you voted the provisional ballot. If you were eligible, they will count your provisional ballot.

What can a voter do to ensure their ballot is counted?
  • In Pennsylvania, voters who cast a provisional ballot should receive a Provisional Ballot Identification Receipt.
  • Voters cannot cure their provisional ballots now that Election Day has passed but they can check on the status of their provisional ballot and are encouraged to call their county board of elections office if there are issues with the online lookup tool or if voters want additional information.
  • You can inquire about the status of your provisional ballot at 1-877-VOTESPA or search online. There may not be a record of your provisional ballot prior to the 7-day period where the BOE must decide your eligibility.

Ballot Deficiencies & Curing

What deficiencies lead ballots to not be counted?

If you failed to put your regular mail ballots in the two required envelopes when returned (first, the inner secrecy envelope, then in the larger postage-paid return envelope) and then to complete, sign and date the declaration on the outer envelope, your ballot will be disqualified as result of a recent state court ruling.

What can a voter do to ensure their ballot is counted?
  • Voters cannot cure any deficiencies on their ballot after Election Day but are still encouraged to confirm that their ballots have been received and accepted.
  • In Pennsylvania, ballots cannot be discarded if the signatures do not match.