What if you arrive at your assigned polling location on Election Day and you're told your name is not in the poll book? What if you don't have photo ID? What if your vote is challenged for some other reason? What should you do?

Answer: You can always vote using a provisional ballot.

However, Erin Kelley, League of Women Voters of Indiana advocacy chair, advises you should exhaust every other avenue before doing so.

“We always tell voters to never take 'no' for answer,” she says. “At least, not the first answer.”

Kelley said voters who run into trouble should ask the staff to check again, and call the county clerk's office if needed.

“Be a strong advocate for yourself,” says Kelley. “The poll workers are there to help you vote, and it is totally within your right to insist that the poll workers exhaust every possible option before giving you a provisional ballot.”

Kelley said voters shouldn't count on a provisional ballot to be counted, because there is no guarantee. If voters go this route they will fill out an affidavit, which is then submitted to the county election board who will ultimately determine whether or not the vote is counted.

“If that affidavit isn't filled out correctly, the election board won’t have enough information to know whether or not it can count that ballot,” she said. “Also, if the reason the voter has been given a provisional ballot is because they didn't bring their ID with them, the voter is still going to have to get to the election board within 10 days to show a proper piece of ID in order for their vote to count.”

Kelley said voters should not leave the polling location until they are satisfied. However, she said voters should take the time to make sure they have proper ID and are at the right place beforehand.

“It does become the responsibility of the poll worker to figure out where they need to go,” she said. “Sometimes if the poll workers haven't been properly trained, or if the poll workers are frazzled, or they've been working 14 hours already and they're really tired, that's when it's important for voters to know their rights to make sure they get the help they need to cast their ballot.”

Myla A. Eldridge, Marion County clerk, said in her experience the board does their best to count every provisional ballot they can, but some can't be helped.

“If you vote a provisional ballot and you don't live in the county, that's not going to be counted,” she said.

If you run into a situation where you believe your civil rights are being violated or election fraud is occurring, you can call a designated number set up by the Justice Department.

Assistant United States Attorney Tiffany Preston has been appointed to serve as the district election officer for the Southern District of Indiana, and in that capacity is responsible for overseeing the district’s handling of complaints of election fraud and voting rights abuses in consultation with Justice Department Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Federal law protects against such crimes as intimidating or bribing voters, buying and selling votes, impersonating voters, altering vote tallies, stuffing ballot boxes, and marking ballots for voters against their wishes or without their input.

Preston will be on duty while the polls are open. She can be reached by phone at 317-226-6333.

In addition, the FBI will have special agents available in each field office and resident agency throughout the country to receive allegations of election fraud and other election abuses on Election Day. The local FBI field office can be reached by phone at 317-595-4000.

Complaints about possible violations of the federal voting rights laws can be made directly to the Civil Rights Division’s Voting Section in Washington, D.C. by phone at 800-253-3931 or 202-307-2767, by fax at 202-307-3961, by email at, or by complaint form.

The League of Women Voters also recommends those who run into trouble while voting contact the Election Protection Hotline at 866-687-8683.

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Rob Burgess, News Editor at NUVO Newsweekly, can be reached by email at, by phone at 317-808-4614 or on Twitter @robaburg.


News Editor