“Casting and Verifying Provisional Ballots in Florida,” Social Science Quarterly
Thessalia Merivaki, University of Florida
Daniel A. Smith, University of Florida
Objective. Some scholars report that the partisanship of local election administrators affects which voters will cast provisional ballots and which ballots will be rejected, raising serious questions about voting rights and the application of uniform election laws within the American states. Our goal is to demonstrate that casting a provisional ballot and rejecting a provisional ballot are separate processes, the discrete dynamics of which have not been adequately assessed empirically. Methods. Drawing on a county-level data set spanning three general elections in the battleground state of Florida, we look beyond the partisanship of local elections administrators, focusing instead on how voter registration issues in local election jurisdictions may condition both the casting and rejection of provisional ballots. Results. Our findings suggest that voter registration maintenance i issues in a county affect the number of provisional ballots cast and rejected. Most importantly, we find that counties with greater numbers of voters who register after the registration cutoff date prior to a general election (and who are thus ineligible to vote) tend to have greater numbers of provisional ballots cast and rejected. Conclusions. Provisional ballots are the stepchildren of local election administration. Voters deemed by poll workers to be ineligible to vote a regular ballot are permitted to cast provisional ballots; these ballots are verified by local canvassing boards after the election results are tabulated and the unofficial winners declared. We find that the partisan leanings of local elections officials play a minimal role in the number of provisional ballots cast and rejected, which we hope will encourage scholars to scrutinize other local factors that might cause disparities in these votes of last resort.
And here’s the link: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ssqu.12245/abstract