Few Provisional Ballots Expected in Indiana
State laws differ from Ohio, which fears deluge of provisional votes
County clerks in Ohio are fretting about a potential flood of thousands of provisional ballots that could delay results for a week-and-a-half. But Indiana law should leave little chance of a similar situation.
Ohio's secretary of state sent absentee ballot applications to every registered voter. That's led to fears that many of the 800,000 Ohioans who have requested ballots but not returned them might show up to vote on Election Day. If they do, they'll have to cast provisional ballots so the state can double-check that they're not voting twice.
Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson says most Hoosiers who request absentee ballots use them. Those who change their minds and show up in person are supposed to bring the unused absentee ballot with them, which usually eliminates the need for a provisional vote.
Provisional ballots were institutionalized nationwide in 2004 as part of a package of reforms after the disputed 2,000 presidential election. They're intended to ensure voters whose eligibility is questioned can still cast a ballot, to be set aside for review when there's more time to resolve the issue.
Lawson says most provisional ballots in Indiana elections come from voters who forgot their photo ID.
Lawson says about 13,000 Hoosiers cast provisional ballots in a presidential year, compared to about 200,000 in Ohio. She says Indiana county clerks attempt to resolve on the spot whether someone's eligible to vote so provisional ballots don't have to be used.
Indiana law gives provisional voters 10 days to come to the clerk's office to establish they were eligible, and requires election boards to rule on those ballots by the end of the 10-day window. In contrast, Ohio prohibits reviewing those ballots until that 10-day window expires.