Provisional Ballots

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A Provisional Ballot is a paper ballot that is used to protect the integrity of the election process and the rights of voters.  All provisional ballots are processed to determine the eligibility of the votes cast.  All valid votes cast via provisional ballot are included in the Certified Election Results, and therefore have the same impact as votes cast on the voting machines.  

There are many reasons that an individual may vote using a provisional ballot.  The most common instances of provisional ballot use occur when an individual cannot be located in either the poll books or the supplemental poll book pages that contain the voter registration information for all eligible voters in a division.  It is important to note that any voter whose name cannot be located in either the poll books or the supplemental poll book pages may only vote using a provisional ballot and may not vote on the voting machines.

Another reason that an individual might be required to vote using a provisional ballot is in the case of a voter who fails to meet the ID requirement for first-time voters or voters who are new to a voting division.  This ID requirement has been in place for several years, and the following is a list of acceptable IDs for these voters:

  • Valid voter registration card issued by the Philadelphia Voter Registration Office
  • Valid Pennsylvania driver’s license or PennDOT ID card
  • Valid ID issued by any Commonwealth agency
  • Valid ID issued by the U.S. Government
  • Valid U.S. passport
  • Valid U.S. Armed Forces ID
  • Valid Student ID
  • Valid Employee ID
  • Non-photo ID issued by the Commonwealth, or any agency thereof
  • Non-photo ID issued by the U.S. Government, or any agency thereof
  • Firearm permit
  • Current utility bill
  • Current bank statement
  • Paycheck
  • Government check

An individual may be required to vote using a provisional ballot if an election official asserts that the individual is not eligible to vote.  An example of such a scenario occurs during a Primary Election when there is a discrepancy between the party in which a voter believes he/she is registered and the party listed in the poll book.

Finally, an individual may be required to vote using a provisional ballot if they are voting as a result of a Court Order or if there has been a Court Order extending the time established for closing the polls.

If you voted by provisional ballot in the most recent election, then you may check the status of your vote at the Pennsylvania Department of State’s website by clicking the button below. You may also check the status of your provisional ballot over the phone by calling 1-877-VOTES-PA (1-877-868-3772). Depending on the volume of provisional ballots cast in a particular election, the status of your provisional ballot may not be available immediately.

Click here to check provisional ballot status