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Report: More provisional ballots filed in minority communities

WASHINGTON -- Maryland jurisdictions with a large share of minority voters are more likely to have a higher rate of provisional ballots on Election Day, according to a report Wednesday by the Center for American Progress.

The liberal think tank found a correlation between minority population and provisional ballots in 16 states, including Maryland. The group notes that many provisional ballots — about one-third — are ultimately not counted, usually because the voter fails to correctly sign the document.

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"Our findings raise serious questions about the health and integrity of the voting process in these states," according to the report. "Since nearly one-third of provisional votes are eventually rejected, the finding that minority voters may be more affected by the use of provisional ballots gives rise to concerns of whether minority voices are being properly heard in these 16 states."

The group found that about 5 percent of voters in Baltimore and 4.3 percent in Prince George's County — both heavily African American jurisdictions — cast a provisional ballot in the 2012 election. In Carroll County, 1.3 percent of voters cast a provisional ballot.

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Nationwide, 2.7 million voters submitted provisional ballots — nearly 2 percent of all in-person ballots cast.

The other 15 states in which the group found a correlation between minority population and provisional ballots are: Arizona, California, Colorado, Kansas, Montana, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, and Utah.

Provisional ballots are offered to voters when there is a question about their eligibility that cannot be resolved at the polling place. Legislation approved by Maryland lawmakers last year allows for same-day registration and voting, though it is only permitted during the early voting period.

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