JEFFERSON CITY - Based on estimates from the secretary of state's office, provisional ballots in Missouri will not impact the final outcome of the 2004 statewide office elections. But that does not mean verified ballots will not be counted.
"It's important that every qualified voter has their vote counted," said Gayla Vandelicht, co-director of elections in the secretary of state's office.
Provisional voting is a federal requirement designed to assure that a registered voter is not blocked from voting simply because the person's name does not appear on the registered voter list at the polling place.
If a voter's name is not on the list, the voter can cast a provisional ballot.
The ballot is then later investigated to determine if the voter is registered. If the voter is registered the ballot is counted.
Vandelicht did not have exact numbers but said there was anywhere between 5,000 and 6,500 provisional ballots cast in Missouri. She said exact numbers will be available when the counties certify the votes with the secretary of state's office. Vandelicht did not know how many of them would be counted.
If that estimate is correct, the provisional ballot count will not effect any statewide race.
The closest was the lieutenant governor's race. The unofficial count found Republican Peter Kinder with slightly more than 15,000 votes ahead of Democrat Bekki Cook.
Provisional ballots are counted by individual counties. The counties have two weeks after the election to certify election results with the secretary of state's office.
Provisional ballots were first used in Missouri during the November 2002 general election and almost two-thirds of the ballots cast were counted.
Verifying every provisional ballot can be a daunting task, Vandelicht said, especially in major population areas with a high provision-ballot count.
Vandelicht estimated that St. Louis City could have as many as 2,000 provisional ballots.
"It could take anywhere from a few minutes to an hour or something for one ballot," Vandelicht said.
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