Defined: Why provisional ballots are unlikely to alter end result


1000’s of provisional ballots are nonetheless being counted in key US states, however are unlikely to sway election outcomes.

A flood of provisional ballots remains to be being counted in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona and Nevada – all key swing states that turned america presidential election for Democrat Joe Biden, who’s projected to win the White Home.

Might these ballots change the projected end result of the election?

It’s an unlikely prospect, as President Donald Trump must win nearly all the provisional ballots in these key states – and provisional ballots have a tendency to separate in direction of the winner of the race.

Nonetheless, like all of 2020, this US election is totally different – and much more provisional ballots had been filed than in previous contests attributable to a heavy reliance on mail ballots through the COVID-19 pandemic.

With Biden’s margin of victory so tight in key states and Trump demanding recounts, there now will likely be an intense give attention to provisional ballots, tens of 1000’s of which nonetheless should be counted as of Saturday in a number of states.

Provisional ballots are counted as soon as the primary voting is full and have to be resolved earlier than remaining tallies in states might be licensed by election officers [File: Mary Altaffer/AP]

Normally, the counting of provisional ballots is uneventful. These kinds of ballots are solid on Election Day when voters are unable to solid an everyday vote due to discrepancies in registration data, identification or questions on a mail-in poll.

Provisional ballots are counted as soon as the primary voting is full and have to be resolved earlier than remaining tallies in states might be licensed by officers.

It’s a time-consuming course of as a result of provisional ballots are often dealt with individually and require a clerk to reconcile registration data with voter IDs or resolve different problems.

Computerized recounts

In Arizona, the place Biden’s lead is about 20,000 votes, election officers mentioned they anticipated to depend tens of 1000’s of provisional ballots over the weekend.

One other 18,000 provisional ballots are nonetheless being tabulated in Georgia, the place Biden holds a really slim lead of seven,000 votes over Trump.

An election official in Pennsylvania informed reporters that as of Friday, the state nonetheless wanted to depend 85,000 provisional ballots, as effectively.

Biden’s lead in that essential swing state was 34,000 on Saturday morning, a bonus over Trump of simply 0.50 %.


It would take just a few days for election officers to finish the counts of provisional ballots.

In Pennsylvania, provisional ballots don’t have scannable bar codes that permit monitoring and should be dealt with individually, the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper reported.

However whereas the provisional poll depend is unlikely to have an effect on the projected end result of the tightly contested election, one factor it might affect is the automated recount course of in some states.

For instance, some state legal guidelines require automated recounts when the margin is 0.5 % or much less.

With the race so tight, provisional ballots might make the distinction as to if a state like Pennsylvania is pressured to do a recount, which might drag on the ultimate certification of the election for weeks.