OC Registrar of Voters Explains The Provisional Ballot Process

Given that the results in some very close Orange County races will be decided by those who cast provisional ballots, here’s a quick tutorial on the subject sent out by the OC Registrar of Voters on Tuesday (keep in mind the numbers cited at the end were current that day):

So it’s true, we have the same questions every election – why do provisional ballots take so much time to process? Let’s walk through it – a provisional ballot is the “safety net” for voters to ensure if they are indeed eligible to vote that their vote will be counted. The top reasons voters vote provisionally? They are in the wrong polling place (we urge voters to read their sample ballot for their updated polling place); They did not bring their vote-by-mail ballot with them (you’d be surprised how many people have forgotten that when they registered to vote they requested a vote-by-mail ballot); and they want to vote a different party ballot (and are not an NPP voter).

The envelope itself is designed to gather critical information from the voter so that we can verify their eligibility to vote – this can take (on average) 2 minutes per voter to determine their eligibility. We investigate their voter record, their signature, their voter registration in other counties, etc. in order to do everything we can to ensure their vote is counted IF it should be (for instance – are they really registered in Orange County or did they forget that they were registered in Los Angeles County – it happens a lot).

Bottom line – it’s a tedious process for a reason – making sure every last eligible vote is counted. Here’s a rundown of the numbers:

  • Total provisional ballots cast in the June 7th Primary Election: 61,370
  • Average provisionals processed per day: 6,000
  • Provisional ballots processed today: 3,376 (the first day is always slower due to training)
  • Number of provisional ballots left in Orange County: 60,244
  • Average time to process a single provisional ballot: 2.5 minutes
  • Number of individuals processing provisional ballots: 32


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