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Could provisional ballots change outcomes of some Shelby County elections?

More provisional ballots were cast this election than most typical elections.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Election day is over but workers are still at the Shelby County Election Commission Operation Center dealing with provisional ballots. 

Provisional ballots are used when there are questions about a voter's eligibility that must be resolved before the vote can be counted. 

This year's heavy turnout at the polls resulted in a larger than normal number of provisional ballots being cast. 

Wednesday morning, Republican and Democrat workers at the operations center began unlocking and opening more than 200 boxes and bags of provisional ballots cast during early voting and on election day.

The ballots are being counted and inventoried.  Research will then be done to see whose provisional ballots will be counted.

Many of these ballots are from people who thought they were registered but didn't show up on the rolls, people who didn't have voter Id's when they arrived at the polls or voters that had other issues.

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"We have to do some research with them. Many of them I suspect were from voters who requested absentee ballots but then chose to vote in person, so we then have to check to make sure the absentee ballot was not counted. If the absentee ballot was not counted, we will count that voter's provisional ballot," said Shelby County Administrator of Elections Linda Phillips. 

Phillips said the number of provisional ballots appears to far exceed those from previous elections. Phillips estimated there would be more than 2,000 provisional ballots cases, and some wonder if those provisional ballots could change the outcome in a couple of races.

For example, Gabby Salinas lost her run for the Tennessee House by just under 500 votes to John Gillespie. In local races, Kevin Quinn beat Paula Sedgwick in for Bartlett Alderman by just 61 votes.

"It's been my experience that provisional ballots follow the regular votes. I've never seen an election change because of provisional votes," said Phillips.

But anything is possible, and the bottom line, said Phillips, anyone who can cast a ballot and does - their voice should be heard.

"We're going to count every vote. I mean that's our mission, is to make sure every vote is cast exactly as they intended, and for it to be counted," said Phillips.

Phillips said it could a few weeks for the research on provisional ballots to be sorted out and determine which ones are eligible to be counted. 

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