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Christian Smith-Socaris on November 6, 2008 - 5:37pm
Provisional ballots are mandated by the Help America Vote Act as a way to provide fail-safe voting for people who cannot be found on the voter rolls on election day. However, too many of these ballots are never counted and have even been referred to as "placebo voting." This problem appears to disproportionately impact minorities as research indicates that the number of provisional ballots cast and the number discarded has been higher in precincts with high concentrations of minority voters. Most states have extremely vague rules for when a provisionally cast vote should be counted. Well designed procedures for counting these ballots can significantly reduce the number of people who have their votes discarded.