Investigation: Provisional Ballots, Does Your Vote Count?

Provisional ballots have changed elections in the Fresno area.

However, are the people casting them telling the truth when they show up at polling places?

That is what we wanted to know after provisional ballots controlled the outcome of the recent Measure G election earlier this year.

Through the Freedom of Information Act, KMPH News Reporter Erik Rosales filed a request with the Fresno County Election's office to receive the 2,111 names, addresses, and phone numbers of all those who used the provisional ballot system.

After months of knocking on doors, calling phone numbers, Rosales confirmed the provisional ballot system appears legit.

Fresno County Clerk, Brandi Orth is not surprised.

Orth says, "Elections is law driven. We conduct elections in accordance with the law. We have processes that reflect the current law and we apply them to ever ballot that comes through here."

Orth says there are safeguards in place.

If the voter goes to the wrong poling place, and is not on the roster, or if they signed up to vote by mail, then try to vote at a polling place on Election Day.

Orth says, "On the pink provisional envelope, the voter also signs it. So when we examine those pink provisional's then we are also going to compare the signature on the provisional and the signature on their voter registration card. If all of those things don't check out then the ballot is never opened and the ballot is not counted."

Out of the 2111 provisional ballots received in the last election, Orth says 1,883 were valid and counted.

98 ballots were from voters who lived outside of the city of Fresno, 33 already mailed in their vote, and the voters didn't sign 63.

34 signatures on the provisional envelopes didn't match with the signature on the voter registration card.

Program Coordinator over Voter Services, Robert Bergstrom says, "As it's often said we have no dog in the fight. So whatever the results are, are just the results of whatever ballots were counted. Whichever way it goes, we just release the results and that's where we leave it."

In the end, Measure G was defeated, which kept the status quo for Fresno residential trash pick up. The victory gave unions and many democrats the win, beating back the proposal by Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin.