Ballot Battle

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Ask any group of people if they know what a provisional ballot is, and you’ll probably get similar answers.

Provisional ballots are supposed to make sure no one who’s eligible to vote is turned away on election day.

As long as you’re in the right polling, you’re entitled to vote even if your name isn’t on the precinct register, even if you forgot your ID, and even if you requested a mail-in ballot but can’t prove you didn’t already mail it in.

You’ll be asked to put your ballot in a special envelope. Elections officials will go through the envelopes after the polls close to see whether you are registered and whether your vote will count.

The law allowing you to cast a provisional ballot actually took effect two years ago. It gives elections officials an extra 36 hours to verify that you’re eligible to vote.

Provisional ballots remain controversial and are already the subject of several lawsuits, but for now, know that you do have the right to vote if you’re registered and provisional ballots are available if you need one.