In 2002, Congress attempted to make voting simpler and more accessible through the Help America Vote Act. Part of this law requires affidavit ballots, also known as provisional ballots, when someone believes himself to be eligible to vote but cannot submit a regular ballot.

Election Day Rules

If you arrive at the polling place, registered and eligible to vote, but your name is not on the official list of registered voters or you left your identification at home, you can vote a provisional ballot. Election officials will attempt to verify your eligibility. If they are able to do so, your vote will be counted like the regular ballots. You may be required to produce your identifying documents, if that was the reason for the affidavit ballot.

Provisional Balloting Results Rules

The law requires that states provide a way for voters to find out if their provisional vote was counted or if not, to learn the reason. This method must be free to the voters. The most common reasons for ballot rejection are that the voter was not registered, the voter attempted to vote in an incorrect precinct or other jurisdiction, that the voter did not have adequate identification or that the provisional ballot was not completed and signed correctly.