This past November, Maricopa County, Arizona, issued the most provisional ballots in its history. In an in-depth report, the county elections department provides detailed information including not just why these ballots were issued and rejected, but also estimates of how much they cost. More than 120,000 provisional ballots were issued in the county during this past presidential election, of which nearly 100,000 were counted. The report identifies 18 different reasons for issuing provisional ballots, with half used because the voter requested an early ballot but did not return it and then showed up at the polls to vote in person.
Additionally nearly a quarter of provisional ballots, almost 30,000, were issued because voters had moved within the county and their addresses were not up to date.
The county estimates it cost more than $475,000 to administer and process provisional ballots. In addition, for the nearly 60,000 provisional ballots issued to voters who received early ballots but did not cast them, the unused early ballots and related materials cost more than $150,000. With other minor costs, the county estimates provisional ballots cost nearly $635,000.