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What Is Provisional Voting?

When there is an issue with an in-person voter that the vote center worker cannot resolve on their own, the voter may need to vote provisionally. 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.

See the Secretary of State's website about provisional voting.

Common Reasons to Vote Provisionally

In a vote center county like Nevada, there are not many reasons for voters to vote provisionally. 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 have a Nevada County address
  • The vote center is unable to access the voter registration database
  • The voter registered for the first time online and does not have an acceptable form of identification (rare)
  • The voter is not registered and refuses to complete a Conditional Voter Registration

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.