Provisional votes won’t switch state elections

Thursday, November 11, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 4:35 p.m. CDT, Thursday, July 10, 2008

JEFFERSON CITY — Based on estimates from the Secretary of State’s Office, provisional ballots in Missouri will have no impact on the outcome of the Nov. 2 elections for statewide offices. Verified ballots will, however, be counted.

“It’s important that every qualified voter has their vote counted,” said Gayla Vandelicht, co-director of elections for the secretary of state.

Provisional voting is a federal requirement designed to ensure registered voters aren’t blocked from voting simply because their names don’t appear on registration lists at designated polling places. Voters whose names are not listed can cast provisional ballots, which are later investigated to ensure they are actually registered. Once that is verified, the ballot is counted.

Vandelicht said between 5,000 and 6,500 provisional ballots were cast in Missouri. She said exact numbers will be available when counties certify election results with the secretary of state’s office. Vandelicht did not know how many of the provisional ballots will be counted.

The race for lieutenant governor was the closest statewide contest in the Nov. 2 election. The unofficial count found Republican Peter Kinder slightly ahead of Democrat Bekki Cook by 15,000 votes.

Provisional ballots were first used in Missouri during the November 2002 general election, and almost two-thirds of the ballots cast were counted.

Verifying every provisional ballot can be a daunting task, Vandelicht said, especially in areas with large populations and larger numbers of provisional ballots.

Vandelicht estimated the city of St. Louis, for example, might have as many as 2,000 provisional ballots to investigate.

“It could take anywhere from a few minutes to an hour or something for one ballot,” she said.

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