More than one in ten voters who shows up at the polls in California is being given a provisional ballot. While you might think this is due to voters missing from the list, only 10% of rejected provisionals in California are because the voter is not registered. Ninety percent are rejected for other reasons -- calling into question why provisional ballots were issued in the first place.
I did a spreadsheet analysis using a pile of U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) data(1) and found that voters who show up to vote in California are getting hit hard with provisional ballots, making it more difficult to vote and expanding disenfranchisement.
In Riverside County, a whopping 14.4 percent of all polling place voters were given a provisional ballot in 2010, and 17 percent of the provisionals were rejected.
San Mateo County gave a hefty 7.5 percent of all polling place voters provisional ballots in 2006, which grew to 10.7 percent in 2010; then rose to a stunning 16 percent in 2012. According to San Mateo 2010 stats, one out of every five provisionals were only partially counted, disenfranchising local candidates and issues, and one out of 30 of provisional voters were rejected because somehow an absentee vote had already showed up in their name.
Statewide, over 10 percent of all 2010 polling place votes in California were subjected to provisional balloting. (EAC 2012 figures are scheduled to be released later this year). By comparison, the state of Alabama had a 0.2 percent rate, and the state of Arkansas also had a 0.2 percent rate. I have not yet run all the states; clearly an expanded analysis is in order.