Guide to Provisional Ballot Results

The number of Provisional Ballots Returned indicates the total number of Provisional Ballots that were issued at the polls and returned to Voter Services by Election Officials. 

The number of Provisional Ballots counted indicates the total number of eligible Provisional Ballots that have been counted.  

The number of Provisional Ballots rejected indicates the total number of Provisional Ballots that were determined not eligible to be counted. 

What are Provisional Ballots?

Provisional Ballots are a paper ballot issued by the staff at a polling location when more time is needed to determine the voter's eligibility to cast a ballot. Provisional Ballots are completed by the voter inside their polling location but are not scanned on the equipment at the polling location. Instead, the ballot is sealed into a secrecy envelope and placed into a large envelope. The voter & the Judge of Election must both complete the outer envelope with the voter's name, address, contact information & provide a reason for issuing the Provisional Ballot.  

When are Provisional Ballots evaluated & added into the results?

Provisional Ballots are brought back to the Voter Services Office on Election Day, but cannot be evaluated until the Friday after the Election by Pennsylvania law. This gives the Voter Services staff time to update the voter records of everyone who casts a ballot on Election Day to determine if the provisional ballot is eligible to be counted. 

How do Election Officials determine if a Provisional Ballot can be counted?

Provisional Ballots are evaluated by the Voter Services staff to verify specific information or conditions before a provisional ballot can be counted: 

  • Confirm the voter is registered to vote in the district in which they cast a ballot 
  • For Primaries, confirm that the voter's party affiliation matches that of the ballot using the information on the outermost envelope
  • Confirm the voter they did not cast a ballot in any other way 
  • Confirm the envelope was completed correctly      

Provisional ballots are then given one of the following determinations: 

Full Credit 

  • The voter is registered to vote in the precinct in which they reside and did not cast a ballot any other way. 
  • The voter cast the ballot for their precinct, which can now be opened and added into the Election Results.    

Partial Credit 

  • The voter is registered to vote in the precinct in which they reside and did not cast a ballot any other way. 
  • The voter cast a ballot in the incorrect precinct, which means that we can only count the votes in races that they are eligible to vote in. For example, if the voter lives in Abington 8-2 but cast their ballot at the polling location in Green Lane; they may not be eligible to vote in all of the races that appear on Green Lane’s ballot. School Board is a good example – an Abington resident is not eligible to vote for the Upper Perkiomen School Board. We would only be able to count the votes in races that the voter is eligible to vote in.  

No Credit 

  • The voter is not registered to vote
  • The voter cast a ballot at another polling location or by mail

These determinations are then evaluated by watchers from both parties. The watchers can lodge challenges if they disagree with the determination the Voter Services staff made. The challenges are presented to the Montgomery County Election Board during a public meeting where the final determination is made. 

Once all challenges have been heard, Provisional Ballots can be opened and added into the count.