Listen to Tim at BI: DO NOT accept a provisional ballot on election day – DEMAND a real ballot.

If you live in a district that leans Democratic, then the GOP will have people at your polling place trying to challenge your voting status.

You defeat this by not leaving the sign-in table without voting a regular ballot. PERIOD. And you TELL EVERY VOTER around you on election day at the polling place to do the same.

I’d suggest you take this a step it a step further. Put these numbers on your cell phone and don’t hesitate to call them if you get challenged at the polls. And be sure to email us ( too so we can post your story.

Newsroom Phone: 614-263-5555

Newsroom Phone: 614-481-6672
contact page

Columbus Dispatch
Newsroom Phone: 614-461-5200

CNN Voter Hotline

  • this is very important, and in a thread at kos there are boneheads who object.

    voting provisional is NOT in a voter’s interest AT ALL.

  • here’s the thread at kos. it’s lunacy.

  • I agree, except I’d say: DO NOT wait until election day, when you’ve been in line two hours and 120 people behind your are wishing for pitchforks. Go to the BOE (or designated alternative location) and VOTE TODAY. On a regular ballot. Provisionals are as bad you say they are.

  • I don’t even bother with any of that mess anymore. I only vote absentee.

    But yes – go vote early at your BOE. That’s the best way to avoid this mess.

  • Michael Berger

    Going one step further – don’t just vote early – get your absentee, vote right there at the BOE office, and make sure you drop it in the freakin’ box.

    Don’t mail it in. Don’t hand it to anyone else. Take the time to make sure it’s going to be secured and counted.

  • The problem with what you and Tim are saying is that some people are, in fact, required to cast provisional ballots. For those people, it is better to cast a provisional ballot that may be counted (the rejection rate in 2006 was only 18.1%) than not to vote at all, and although a voter can be firm in requesting a regular ballot they can’t force the poll worker to give them one.

    I’m saying yes, insist on a regular ballot, but no, don’t get yourself thrown out of the polling place without casting any kind of vote at all. Provisional voting is still better than not voting.

  • Anastasia

    This is incorrect, at least in Ohio. They CANNOT have challengers in the polling place; the polling location coordinator will call the police and have them escorted out. Only observers are aloud, they must have proper documentation, and they may only observe, not interfere with the voting process in any way. The only ones allowed to challenge a voter are the actual polling judges.

    Getting in a big fight and DEMANDING a regular ballot without asking why you are being asked to vote provisional is pointless. Too many people assume the worst and just want to get in a big fight for their “rights” without taking the time to deal with whatever the issue is. There are two basic reasons you will be asked to vote provisional. One is if you are not in the poll book. If that is the case, PLEASE go to the help table and make sure you are in the proper precinct and polling place, never mind what you THINK. You just can’t vote a regular ballot in a precinct when you are not in the poll book. Most provisionals at this point are people who are not in the poll book but insist they live in a certain precinct. If you actually DO live in the precinct (make double and triple sure), you’ll have to vote the provisional. Do it. It will count.

    The other case would be if you don’t have ID or aren’t willing to show it. Just take the damned ID, OK?

    There will be cases where it is marked in the poll book that a person must vote provisional, I assume due to discrepancies. These cases were few and far between in the last two elections I worked. I assume that what the data-base check the GOP wanted was about was to jack up that number. It appears unlikely to happen now. There aren’t enough BoE workers in the state to sort through that mess in less than two weeks.

    One other case you will be asked to vote provisional is if you requested an absentee ballot or voted at the BoE and show up at the polls. If you did the later, you’re committing voter fraud. If your absentee ballot was never received, vote the damned provisional (I think the reason for it should be clear). It will count.

    Bottom line is that fighting won’t get you a regular ballot. Being in the right precinct will.

  • So the rules have changed since 2004 Anastasia? That seems important.

  • i will be commenting on this further at my blog today, soon.

  • just posted again.

    anastasia, you’re playing their game.

  • Matthew

    The rules have changed, Joseph.

    1. Partisan poll observers are allowed so long as they don’t interfere. They have absolutely no right to challenge, or speak with anyone other than the pollworkers themselves. The Ohio SOS has made this very clear in the training. Once a poll observer interferes with, or even -delays- the voting process, that observer is kicked out (after one warning).

    2. Virtually any form of current ID + address is accepted for a regular ballot. Even a utility bill or a fishing license is accepted. The singular exception is passports. Don’t ask me why.

    3. For every one GOP judge, there’s also a Democratic and Independent judge. If someone believes they are the victim of a partisan suppression, all they need to do is speak with another judge.

    If the judges deem that a person requires a provisional ballot, no amount of protest will give them the regular ballot. Refusing to take the provisional ballot, and remaining in the polling place, will result in one of two scenarios. 1) The person will be forcibly removed for interfering with a polling location, or 2) The person’s continuing protest will cause long delays which lead to fewer total votes as others waiting in line leave.

    This ain’t 2004.

  • Matthew, it would be useful for you to tell us who you are, since you are posting this comment on every thread at my blog, and this one.

    your suggestion that this isn’t 2004, and therefore you can just happily vote provisional because the poll worker tells you to, is simply irrelevant. provisional ballots were bad then, and they’re worse now, and it is more likely than ever that a provisional ballot will be cast in error.

    and the notion that a successful protest, resulting in a regular ballot being cast, makes me wonder about your motive.

  • Matthew

    Forgive me for posting on two blogs. I know enough about blogging to classify myself as a lurker, but not enough to know the proper etiquette for posting on parallel blogs.

    I am who I purport to be. My true name’s Matthew, and I am a friend and classmate to Jerid. From what I know of you, this information should sufficiently outline my ideology and profession to satisfy your immediate curiosity without revealing that which I wish to keep private. If you wish, contact Jerid

    As for my motive? My motive is to get as many people as possible to vote. Your recommendation is directly counter to my purposes, and therefore I spoke out.

    If this were 2004, I wouldn’t have any problem with your recommendation to protest. Given that this isn’t 2004, that Jennifer Brunner is not Ken Blackwell, and that the polling procedures have significantly changed since you last participated, your recommendations are counter-productive in their obsolescence.

    Again, as someone speaking with knowledge of current polling procedures, I recommend the following:

    If a voter suspects he has been improperly given a provisional ballot as part of a suppression effort by a partisan judge, that voter should immediately speak with another judge about the issue. The second judge is guaranteed to be in a different party from the first judge.

    If, after speaking with a second or even third judge, a voter is still asked to take a provisional ballot, I do not recommend protesting to force a regular ballot. First, the delay caused by the protest necessarily increases voting lines and thereby reduces voter turnout. Second, a regular ballot given in violation of polling procedure just to placate an obnoxious person undermines the legitimacy of regular ballots as a whole. Third, and most importantly, the protest’s force, interference, and intimidation subjects the voter to a fifth degree felony and potential loss of voting privileges.

    Steps to avoid provisional ballots:

    1. Be at the right precinct. Look it up before you go. When at the polling location, if you are confused about the proper table, ask two different judges about where to go. Every judge will wear an identifying tag.

    2. Bring ID, or go home and get it if you forgot it. ID is expansive, and includes everything from Driver’s Licenses to Public School IDs, Tax Bills, Government Checks, Government Letters, Notices, Utility Bills, Bank Statements, Paychecks, Grade Reports, Transcripts, Court Documents, and so on. If a document has your name and address listed when you registered, then it’s a valid ID. A photo is not required. Passports and documents from the Board of Elections, however, are NOT valid ID.

  • Matthew

    Is it safe to presume that since Tim lambasted me on his website, the reason I can’t respond to his comments are because my IP is now banned there?

    What exactly is the etiquette on commenting to parallel blogs anyway? 🙂

  • Matthew

    Nvm, my comments were just delayed.

  • Vote early at your BOE office. That seems like the best way to ensure your vote is counted.

    My point with this post was add to Tim’s advice by providing the numbers for local media outlets who will be very interested in hearing your story if your voting status is challenged.

  • Matthew

    Here’s some additional numbers you might want to add.

    Voter Registration Helpline: (216) 443-3298

    Poll Worker Feedback Hotline (216) 443-3291

  • Matt P.

    I read a lot of the comments here and I agree with most of them. I am a presiding judge at one of the local polling places in Toledo. If you are given a provisional ballot, please vote it. If it is determined (at the BOE) that you are qualified, your vote will count. Please, do not act like a spoiled child. You will only get yourself arrested and charges will be filed.

  • Michael

    You all seem to have missed one very important event that fundamentally changed the nature of elections in Ohio: we elected Ted Strickland, a Democrat, as Governor in 2006. The significance of this is that, by law, the Director of every Board of Elections and the Presiding Judge in every precinct must be a registered member of the party of the Governor. The election machinery has changed hands, guys. By all means, protest if you are unfairly given a provisional ballot. But your first action should be to talk to the Presiding Judge of your precinct. They have are the official decision-maker within the precinct on Election Day.

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