Provisional ballots best avoided

Provisional ballots are a good thing. But you don't want to be handed one.

In response to problems during the 2000 presidential election, Congress passed the Help America Vote Act of 2002. Provisional ballots were created to record a vote when there are questions about the voter's eligibility. Once the questions are resolved, the vote is either counted or disqualified. Provisional ballots are a good thing because they can preserve voters' rights.

But it's best to avoid being handed a provisional ballot.

Register to vote before the deadline (30 days before an election) by requesting a form from the Board of Elections at 216-443-3298 or If you have moved or your name has changed, update your registration before the deadline.

Take identification to the polls. Acceptable proof of identity includes a current and valid photo ID, military ID, utility bill within the last 12 months, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows your name and current address (but not a voter registration acknowledgement).

If you requested a vote-by-mail ballot, use that ballot to vote. If you lose your ballot, you can cast a provisional ballot at the polls.

Sign your name the way you signed it when you last registered.

Suppose your name or address has changed and you missed the registration deadline. Do not vote at your old polling place. Cast a provisional ballot at your new polling place. Take proof of your new name or address with you.

If a poll worker challenges your eligibility to vote, they must give you a Provisional Ballot Notice. It will tell you what to do to ensure that your vote counts.

If you have questions, call the Board of Elections at 216-443-3298.

Thank you for voting – and thank you for encouraging others to vote!

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Volume 5, Issue 18, Posted 10:35 AM, 09.04.2013