Analysis

Ohio's Provisional Ballot Use Declines

In the 2014 general election, Ohio recorded a large reduction in the rate of provisional ballots issued, according to data from the office of Secretary of State John Husted. Provisionals made up 1.56 percent of total ballots cast, a 41 percent reduction from a 2.66 percent rate during the 2010 midterm election.

The secretary’s office credited the improvement to better voter list maintenance partly resulting from the creation of an online change-of-address form for voters and data exchanges with the state Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

The rate at which provisional ballots were rejected also declined significantly, from 0.3 percent of all ballots cast in 2010 to 0.15 percent in 2014. Changes to the way provisional ballots are cast and counted may be responsible for this decrease. Some polling locations serve multiple precincts; previously, a provisional ballot was thrown out if the voter was at the right polling location but voted in the wrong precinct. In February 2014, Governor John Kasich signed a bill requiring poll workers to direct voters to the correct precinct. If the worker fails to do so, the provisional ballot must be counted.

Of the total ballots cast in 2010, 0.13 percent were provisional that were rejected for being cast in the wrong precinct. In 2014 this rejection rate fell to 0.04 percent.

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