During a presidential election in Florida, thousands of provisional ballots are left uncounted. In some cases, that’s because voters forgot to sign them. And Sen. Audrey Gibson (D-Jacksonville) has a bill to do something about that. “It’s a very simple bill it just allows a voter who casts a ballot, but fails to sign his or her name to be able to cure that deficiency just like a voter can cure that deficiency on a vote by mail ballot,” Gibson says. A vote by mail ballot, or absentee ballot allows someone to request that a ballot be mailed to their home then they mail it back or drop it off at the supervisor of elections office. And sometimes voters make mistakes when filling out those ballots –like forgetting to sign them. But Gibson says there’s a plan in place to address that. And she wants that same plan to apply to provisional ballots—or a ballot that’s voted in person at a polling location, often when there are questions about a voter’s eligibility.
“The process for curing the provisional ballot already exists. There’s nothing new that has to be created. It’s parallel to the absentee ballot curing so there’s nothing extra that has to be done,” Gibson says.
But Ron Labasky who represents the Florida State Association of Supervisor of Elections, says the change isn’t needed. He says mistakes on provisional ballots are rare.
“I reviewed the 2014 federal election administration report that’s filed with the Department of State with the federal government that follows every election that we have. And in 2014 we had 5,392 provisional ballots that appear to be rejected based upon that report. 31 were rejected based upon the failure to have no signature,” Labasky says. And Labasky says unlike mail-in ballots, provisional ballots are filled out in person and under a poll worker’s supervision.