How To Make Sure Your Provisional or Absentee Ballot Will Be Counted

November 3, 2020 – If you voted a provisional ballot at the polls or if your mail-in ballot has one or more mistakes, how and by when can you “cure” or fix your ballot so it counts? As is generally the case, it depends on your state’s rules.

– By Kathleen Unger, VoteRiders Founder and President

Here are deadlines and procedures for each state:

Alabama

  • Provisional ballot: You must submit a valid photo ID to the county board of registrar’s office by 5:00 PM on the Friday after an election. Find your local board of registrar’s office.
  • Absentee ballot: There is no process to “cure” (fix) your ballot if it is rejected.

 

Alaska

  • Questioned ballot: A review board will determine if your ballot will be counted. A letter will be sent to you if your ballot is rejected or partially counted to tell you the reason.
  • Absentee ballot: There is no process to “cure” (fix) your ballot if it is rejected.

 

Arizona

  • Provisional ballot: You must provide an acceptable ID at the county board of elections or county clerk’s office within five business days after a federal election or three days after any other election. Find your local office.
  • Mail-in ballot: If the signature on your ballot envelope and affidavit cannot be verified, the county recorder will try to contact you by phone, text, email, or mail to allow you to correct or confirm your inconsistent signature. Your signature may be corrected no later than the fifth business day after a primary, general, or special election that includes a federal office or the third business day after any other election.

 

Arkansas

  • Provisional ballot: The county board of election commissioners will judge whether your ballot will be counted based on their investigation of the relevant facts. You may also choose to provide documents or an ID card that meet state requirements to the county board of elections or county clerk by 12:00 noon on the Monday after the election.
  • Absentee ballot: There is no process to “cure” (fix) your ballot if it is rejected.

 

California

  • Provisional ballot: Your provisional ballot will be counted after elections officials have confirmed that you are registered to vote in that county and you did not already vote in that election.
  • Mail-in ballot: If your signature on your ballot’s identification envelope does not match your signature on file with the state, you will be notified at least eight days prior to the certification of the election that you need to submit a signature verification statement. The signature verification statement must be submitted no later than 5 p.m. two days prior to the certification of the election.

 

Colorado

  • Provisional ballot: In order for your ballot to be counted, you must complete a provisional ballot affidavit. After Election Day, the election official will determine if you were eligible to vote and if your provisional ballot will be counted.
  • Mail-in ballot: If your signature on your ballot’s identification envelope does not match your signature on file with the state, you will be notified by email, if available, and by letter sent to the address in your registration record. You will be sent notification within three days after the signature deficiency has been confirmed, but no later than two days after Election Day. A confirmation form accompanying your notification letter must be returned to the county clerk and recorder within eight days after Election Day for your ballot to count. Find your local county clerk and recorder office.

 

Connecticut

  • Provisional ballot: After the election, the Registrars will determine whether your ballot (including your signed affirmation) will be counted or rejected.
  • Absentee ballot: There is no process to “cure” (fix) your ballot if it is rejected.

 

Delaware

  • Provisional ballot: Provisional Ballots cover only Federal offices such as President, Vice President, US Senate and US Congress. To be permitted to vote a provisional ballot, you will be asked to sign an affidavit as well as provide proof of identity and address. On the day after the election, the Department of Elections for your county will determine whether your ballot is valid.
  • Mail-in ballot: There is no process to “cure” (fix) your ballot if it is rejected.

 

District of Columbia:

  • Special Ballot: Where applicable, you must show your proof of identity or residence to the Board within two days following the election.
  • Mail-in ballot: There is no process to “cure” (fix) your ballot if it is rejected.

 

Florida

  • Provisional ballot: Your signature on the Provisional Ballot Certificate will be compared with your signature on file to determine if your ballot counts. If your signature on the Provisional Ballot Certificate is not verified, you can cure the deficiency by submitting a Provisional Ballot Cure Affidavit to the Supervisor of Elections no later than 5 PM on the second day after the election. Find your local county supervisor of elections.
  • Mail-in ballot: If the signature on your vote-by-mail ballot is missing or does not match your signature on file, you must be notified as soon as it is practical via first class mail (unless it is one day before the election), email, text message, or telephone. You must submit, by 5 PM on the 2nd day after the election, a cure affidavit, along with a copy of your ID, to your county supervisor of elections in order for your ballot to count. Find your local county supervisor of elections.

 

Georgia

  • Provisional ballot: For your ballot to count, you must present an acceptable ID at your county registrar’s office within three days after the election. Find your local county registrar’s office.
  • Absentee ballot: If your absentee ballot is rejected because your signature doesn’t match your signature on file with the state, you will be promptly notified by written notice or via telephone or email, if available. You may cure your ballot signature defect within three days after the election by submitting your voter ID, along with an affidavit confirming that the ballot was yours.

 

Hawaii

  • Provisional ballot: If you vote a provisional ballot, you will be required to sign a written affirmation and confirm your residence and date of birth. If you did not include the required identification information at the time of registration per the Help America Vote Act, you must provide acceptable ID to the Clerk’s Office for the general election by November 5, 2020.
  • Mail-in ballot: If the return envelope prevents counting of your ballot (for example: if it is unsigned or your signatures do not match), you will be notified by first class mail, telephone, or email. You must “cure” (fix) the deficiency no later than five business days after the date of the election.

 

Idaho

  • Provisional ballot: If you are a registered voter and do not bring an acceptable ID to the polling place, you may sign a sworn statement and vote a regular ballot. Idaho is not required to implement a provisional voting system because the state enacted election day registration several years ago and is exempt from the National Voter Registration Act.
  • Mail-in ballot: There is no process to “cure” (fix) your ballot if it is rejected.

 

Illinois

  • Provisional ballot: You may help expedite the counting of your provisional ballot if you have any information or documents to show that you are a registered voter or eligible to vote. The Clerk’s office must receive all supporting information within 7 days of Election Day.
  • Mail-in ballot: If your ballot is rejected because your signature doesn’t match your signature on file with the state, you will be notified within two days of rejection. You may “cure” (fix) your ballot signature defect within 14 days after the election by visiting your county election authority. Find your local election authority.

 

Indiana

  • Provisional ballot: For your ballot to count, by noon 10 days after the election you must provide an acceptable ID or sign an affirmation that one of the law’s exceptions applies.
  • Mail-in ballot: While your county is not required to notify you if your application or security envelope is defective or rejected, your county election officials may choose to do so in a uniform and consistent manner. You may appear before the county election board no later than 5 PM on Election Day to request a signed ABS-21 form (Certificate of Absentee Ballot Rejection or Failure to Timely Receive Absentee Ballot by Mail). Find your local election officials. You can then take that form to your polling place, where an inspector will sign it, allowing you to vote a regular ballot.

 

Iowa

  • Provisional ballot: For your ballot to count, you must provide ID at the county auditor’s office before the time of the county canvass of votes (12:00 pm noon on the Monday after Election Day).
  • Absentee ballot: If the affidavit on the return envelope is incomplete, you must be notified within 24 hours. You may then either complete the affidavit in person at your Auditor’s Office by 5:00 pm on the day before the election, or vote a replacement ballot (after requesting your Auditor to send such ballot or in person at an Early Vote location), or appear in person at your polling place on Election Day and cast a ballot. Find your local Auditor’s Office.

 

Kansas

  • Provisional ballot: For your ballot to count, you must submit a valid form of ID in person at your county elections office, by mail, or electronic means “sometime before the county canvass.” Find your local election office. By law, counties may canvass on the Monday following the election or on the following Thursday (the second Thursday after the election).
  • Advance ballot by mail: If there is a question about your signature, the county election office will contact you to verify your signature.

 

Kentucky

  • Provisional ballot: If you are unable to provide proof of ID, you may cast a provisional ballot for federal elected offices only. To do so, you must conform to federal law for first-time voters (check the rules here) and sign a written affirmation, stating that you are a registered voter and eligible to vote in the election, in front of an election official.
  • Absentee ballot: If you make a mistake on your ballot or your signature does not match, you will be notified by your county clerk. You must “cure” (fix) your ballot by November 9 in order for your ballot to count.

 

Louisiana

  • Provisional ballot: You must be a registered voter in the parish where you vote and eligible to vote in the election for federal office for your vote to be counted. If you cast a provisional ballot for a U.S. representative, you must be a registered voter in that congressional district.
  • Absentee ballot: There is no process to “cure” (fix) your ballot if it is rejected.

 

Maine

  • Provisional (Challenged) ballot: All challenged ballots are initially counted in the same manner as regular ballots. No further determination is made on the challenge unless a recount occurs and it is determined that the challenged ballot could affect the outcome of the election.
  • Mail-in ballot: The Secretary of State’s Office has “specifically advised clerks to make a concerted effort to cure any ballot defects that would result in the rejection of absentee ballots.” If there is enough time, your clerk’s office will contact you to remedy defects like inconsistent signatures.

 

Maryland

  • Provisional ballot: Election officials start counting provisional ballots on the 2nd Wednesday after each election. Your ballot will be counted if you are a registered voter, were eligible to vote by provisional ballot, and met any other applicable requirements.
  • Mail-in ballot: If your ballot is rejected by your local board of elections, you have the right to appeal to the circuit court for the county. Your appeal must be filed within 5 days from the date of the completion of the official canvass.

 

Massachusetts

  • Provisional ballot: If you are not on the poll list or are listed incorrectly and are later determined to be registered to vote, your ballot will be unsealed and counted. If you are a first-time voter in MA and unable to provide identification that may be required by federal law, your ballot will be counted if you return with identification to the polling place or the office of your local election official by the time polls are closed.
  • Mail-in ballot: If an affidavit signature is absent or your mail-in ballot is rejected for other reasons, you will be notified. If there is sufficient time prior to Election Day, you will be sent a new absentee ballot that you can submit.

 

Michigan

  • Provisional ballot: Your ballot will be counted only if you provide your local city or township clerk (in person or by fax or mail) with a required ID document no later than the sixth calendar day after the election. Find your local clerk.
  • Absent voter ballot: There is no process to “cure” (fix) your ballot if it is rejected.

 

Minnesota

  • Provisional ballot: Minnesota is not required to implement a provisional voting system because the state enacted election day registration several years ago and is exempt from the National Voter Registration Act.
  • Absentee ballot: If there are fewer than five days before Election Day and election officials find that you or your witness did not fill out the absentee ballot signature envelope correctly, they will try to contact you. You can vote in person at your local election office or at your polling place on Election Day.

 

Mississippi

  • Provisional (affidavit) ballot: For your affidavit ballot to be counted, you must present an acceptable form of ID at the Circuit Clerk’s office within five business days after the election.
  • Absentee ballot: If your absentee ballot is rejected and there is a signature match issue, election officials must notify you within one business day (either by mail, email, or fax) in order to give you an opportunity to correct it. You will then have 10 calendar days after the election to submit a completed “Absentee Cure Form.” so your ballot can be counted.

 

Missouri

  • Provisional ballot: Your ballot will be counted if your signature on the provisional ballot envelope matches your signature in the voter registry.
  • Absentee ballot: There is no process to “cure” (fix) your ballot if it is rejected.

 

Montana

  • Provisional ballot: For your provisional ballot to count, you must provide an acceptable ID or other proof of eligibility by 5:00 PM the day after the election (in person or electronically). You can also mail it if postmarked by the day after the election.
  • Absentee ballot: Election administrators must notify you of missing or mismatched signatures. You can complete a ballot rejection notice and submit it, along with a copy of your ID, to your county election office by 8pm on Election Day.

 

Nebraska

  • Provisional ballot: The election commissioner or county clerk must complete verification and investigation of your ballot within seven business days after the election.
  • Absentee ballot: There is no process to “cure” (fix) your ballot if it is rejected.

 

Nevada

  • Provisional ballot: Your ballot status is available beginning on the eighth day after the election and is available for 30 days.
  • Mail-in ballot: Local election officials will notify you if your ballot has a missing or mismatched signature. You have until the seventh day after the election to resolve the issue.

 

New Hampshire

  • Challenged voter affidavit: After Election Day, you will receive a verification letter from the Secretary of State requesting confirmation that you voted in the election. If you do not respond in writing to the Secretary of State within 30 days of the date it was mailed, the Attorney General will conduct an investigation to determine whether fraudulent voting occurred.
  • Absentee ballot: While notice of any defect(s) in your absentee ballot is not explicitly required, the state’s “best practice” is to attempt to notify you if your ballot has been rejected for any reason. The Absentee Ballot Application form requires you to provide a phone number and or email address where you can be contacted. The Clerk will explain how and where you can cure the defect that caused the rejection.

 

New Jersey

  • Provisional ballot: All provisional ballots are taken to the County Commissioner of Registration’s office after the close of the polls for verification and counting by the County the County Board of Election.
  • Mail-in ballot: If your mail-in ballot is missing your signature or your county Board of Elections determined that your signature does not match the signature in your voting record, local officials must send you a “cure letter” in English, Spanish and Korean within 24 hours of rejection (and in some cases by email or phone, if officials have that information on file). You must return the signed and dated cure form along with proof of identity to your county Board of Elections office in person or by mail, email or fax no later than 48 hours before the final certification of election results.

 

New Mexico

  • Provisional ballot: You will be issued a provisional ballot if your name does not appear on the roster at your polling place or if you are a first-time voter in NM and did not provide the required identification. Officials will count your votes only for those races for which you would have been eligible had you voted in the right precinct.
  • Absentee ballot: There is no process to “cure” (fix) your ballot if it is rejected.

 

New York

  • Provisional ballot: Your ballot will be counted if research at the county board supports the claim you made in your oath on the ballot envelope. If you were in the correct poll site but at the wrong voter sign-in table, only those contests and questions which the two different districts had in common will be counted.
  • Absentee ballot: If there is a defect in your absentee ballot, the board of elections will notify you within one day of rejection, explaining why your ballot was rejected. The notice will tell you how to cure the deficiency and will include an affirmation form, which must be returned by you within 7 days of the board’s mailing of the notice of the defect to you (or, for only the 2020 general election, 5 days if your absentee ballot is received after November 3). If your affirmation corrects the defect, your ballot will be counted. If the board finds your affirmation to be insufficient to cure the defect, you will be notified within 3 days.

 

North Carolina

  • Provisional ballot: The election official will inform you, if applicable, of any additional steps you must take to ensure your ballot counts.
  • Absentee ballot: For the November 2020 general election, the North Carolina State Board of Elections has created a special “cure” (fix) process for voters whose absentee ballots have a defect. If your ballot has been rejected and is curable, you will be notified and provided with a cure certification that must be returned by the deadline for receipt of absentee ballots.

 

North Dakota

  • Provisional ballot: North Dakota does not require voters to register and only uses provisional ballots if a court order has extended the polling hours. If you do not present an acceptable ID at the polling place, your ballot will be set aside. In order for your ballot to be counted: you must return with a valid ID to the polling place before the polls close on Election Day, or you can bring a valid ID to the office of your area’s elections administrator before the meeting of the canvassing board (typically on the sixth day after the election).
  • Absentee ballot: If there is a defect including with the signature in your absentee ballot, you must be notified and provided with information as to how to correct your ballot so it will count.

 

Ohio

  • Provisional ballot: If you do not present an acceptable ID at the polling place, your provisional ballot will count if you provide your Ohio driver’s license or state ID number or the last four digits of your Social Security number. You may also appear in person at the board of elections within seven days following Election Day to provide a qualifying form of identification.
  • Absentee ballot: If the information on your ballot is found to be incomplete or does not conform to the data in the registration database (for example: if your signature doesn’t match your signature on file), a notice will be sent by election administrators informing you of the nature of the defect. You will have until the seventh day after the election to resolve the issue(s).

 

Oklahoma

  • Provisional ballot: In order for your ballot to be counted, you must sign an affidavit with information that matches your voter registration record.
  • Absentee ballot: There is no process to “cure” (fix) your ballot if it is rejected.

 

Oregon

  • Provisional ballot: In order to obtain a provisional ballot, you need to fill out a Provisional Ballot Request Form in person at the county elections office. Your provisional ballot will not be counted until it is determined that you are eligible to vote.
  • Mail-in ballot: County clerks must notify you by mail of any signature absence, discrepancy, or challenge. You must complete and return the certified statement accompanying the notice by the 14th day after the election for your ballot to count.

 

Pennsylvania

  • Provisional ballot: 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.
  • Absentee or mail-in ballot: Your ballot cannot be rejected solely due to signature comparisons. As for other defects, the counties are pursuing a variety of policies as to whether and how they notify and help voters to correct mistakes.

 

Rhode Island

  • Provisional ballot: You must provide the necessary documents to the Board of Canvassers before the close of business on the day after the election.  Otherwise, the Board will compare the signature on your ballot to your signature on file to determine if your ballot counts.
  • Mail-in ballot: If your signature is omitted, challenged or is inconsistent with your record, the Board of Elections will attempt to notify you by email (if known) and mail of the defect. You will be instructed to either appear at the Board of Elections office to correct the error or provide the information, or to provide an Omitted Signature Affidavit Form. You must cure the missing or deficient information no later than 4:00 p.m., seven days after the General Election Day.

 

South Carolina

  • Provisional ballot: For your ballot to be counted, you must show a valid photo ID to the county election commission prior to certification of the election – usually the Thursday or Friday after the election.
  • Absentee ballot: If you discover a problem with the signature or some other aspect of your absentee ballot, you can call the county election office and correct it up until the close of polls on Election Day. Ballots that arrive without a witness signature (or address) after 10/7/20 will not be counted. The state will not notify you of an absentee ballot defect.

 

South Dakota

  • Personal Identification Affidavit: If you are not able to present acceptable ID, you may still vote a regular ballot by signing a Personal Identification Affidavit. A Personal Identification Affidavit is a form on which you write your name, address, and signature. Your signature on the Affidavit must match the signature on file with the state.
  • Absentee ballot: There is no process to “cure” (fix) your ballot if it is rejected.

 

Tennessee

  • Provisional ballot: In order for your ballot to count, you must bring a valid ID to the election commission office and sign an affidavit before the close of business, two business days after the election.
  • Absentee ballot: The county election commission will then send a second set of ballot supplies to you, advising that your ballot was refused because it was unsigned. If you return the corrected ballot so that it is received by the time the polls close on Election Day, it will be counted.

 

Texas

  • Provisional ballot: For your ballot to count, you must present an acceptable ID or substitute at the county voter registrar’s office within six calendar days after the election.
  • Absentee ballot: If election officials decide that the signature on your mail-in ballot does not match your signature on file, they are not required to provide you with an opportunity to challenge the rejection of your ballot. However, your county clerk or voter registrar may voluntarily give you early notice so you can fix your ballot in time for your vote to count.

 

Utah

  • Provisional ballot: In order for your ballot to count, you must present an acceptable form of ID to the county clerk or an election officer by the close of business on the Monday after the election.
  • Mail-in ballot: If your ballot is defective, the county clerk must notify you within one-two business days if rejected before Election Day or within seven days if rejected on or after Election Day. For your ballot to count, you must cure the defect by the day before the official canvass, which is typically 7-14 days after Election Day.

 

Vermont

  • Provisional ballot: The clerk will review and determine your eligibility as a voter after the close of the polls.
  • Absentee ballot: There is no process to “cure” (fix) your ballot if it is rejected.

 

Virginia

  • Provisional ballot: If you vote a provisional ballot due to lack of ID, the ballot will be marked ID-ONLY. In order for your ballot to be counted, a copy of your ID or signed ID Confirmation Statement must be delivered (via fax, email, in-person submission, or through USPS or commercial delivery service) to the electoral board by noon on the Friday following the election.
  • Absentee ballot: Your local registrar must provide you with the opportunity to correct any mistakes with your mail-in ballot that otherwise would have disqualified your vote. Your corrected ballot must be postmarked by Election Day and received by November 6.

 

Washington

  • Provisional ballot: Your signature on the ballot declaration must match the signature on your voter registration record in order for your ballot to be counted.
  • Mail-in ballot: If you do not sign your ballot declaration or if your signature on the ballot does not match your voter registration file, the auditor will notify you of the issue by first-class mail, including directions as to how to “cure” (fix) the ballot. If your ballot has not been received by three business days before the final meeting of the canvassing board, or if you have not responded to the first-class mail notification, then the auditor will attempt to notify you by phone. Your corrected ballot must be returned before election certification, which is 21 days after the general election.

 

West Virginia

  • Provisional ballot: For your ballot to count, the signature on your provisional ballot envelope must match the signature in your voter registration record. You can also bring an acceptable ID to the municipal clerk by 4:00 pm on the Friday following the election.
  • Absentee ballot: If you submit a defective absentee ballot in West Virginia, you will be notified of the ballot’s rejection and the reason. You may submit a corrected ballot, provided that your ballot is postmarked by Election Day and received by the canvas date. The canvas date is the Monday following Election Day.

Wisconsin

  • Provisional ballot: In order for your ballot to be counted, you must provide acceptable ID before the polls close on Election Day or by 4:00 pm on the Friday following the election at the municipal clerk’s office. Find your local municipal clerk’s office.
  • Absentee ballot: Wisconsin clerks are not required to contact voters who have sent defective absentee ballots, but clerks have the discretion to do so. You should check the My Vote Wisconsin websitefor the status of your ballot. Replacement ballots must be received by 8 pm on Election Day to be counted.

 

Wyoming

  • Provisional ballot: Your ballot will be rejected if you are not listed on the registration rolls and are registering for the first time on Election Day, but you do not present documentation at the polls or by close of business on the following day.
  • Absentee ballot: If a county clerk receives a facially defective absentee ballot, the clerk may notify you of the defect and offer an opportunity to fix it. The cured ballot must be received by the appropriate county clerk’s office by 7 pm on Election Day.