With the sheriff's race coming down to provisional ballots, many people in McPherson County have asked what these ballots are and how they are counted.

McPherson County Clerk Cathy Schmidt released data on the provisional ballots for this primary election Thursday morning, explaining why each was accepted or rejected in the final total.

None of the names associated with these ballots were released, as doing so would violate voter rights laws.

Provisional ballots are a tool that allow everyone to vote while safeguarding against voter fraud. People are issued provisional ballots when their voting eligibility is called into question at the time they cast their vote.

There are a variety of reasons a person's eligibility can be called into question, and the County Clerk's office is responsible for verifying eligibility before final votes can be tallied and approved.

The county received 77 provisional ballots on election day, and an additional 16 from early voting, for a total of 93 provisional ballots. Of those ballots, 59 were found to be cast by eligible voters, while the eligibility of the remaining 34 could not be verified.

Of the 59 ballots found to be eligible, 47 were cast by people whose residence had changed since they registered to vote, but who had not re-registered with their new address. These voters were required to provide their new address at the time they cast their provisional ballots, effectively re-registering with their correct address.

Another two eligible ballots were cast by voters who had not declared a party affiliation before voting, but did so at the time they cast their ballots. Unaffiliated voters are allowed to declare party affiliations at the polls and vote in the appropriate primary elections.

Three eligible ballots were cast by voters whose names could not be found in the poll books at the time they cast their ballots. Schmidt said upon reviewing the books, these voters' names were found, and their ballots counted.

One ballot was cast by a person who did not present appropriate identification at the polls. Such voters are allowed to present appropriate identification before the county canvassing, which took place Thursday morning. This voter did so, and his or her vote was counted.

The final six eligible ballots were cast by voters who went to the wrong polling place on election day. These voters were allowed to use the voting forms provided at those locations. County clerk employees then compared their ballots with the ballots they should have used, and transferred their votes to the correct form as thoroughly as possible.

In this way, these six voters were allowed to vote in broader county and state races. The precinct-specific race votes, however, were not counted as the voters do not reside in those precincts.

Of the 34 provisional ballots that were not counted, 10 were submitted by people who had not registered to vote. Voters must register before they submit a ballot for their votes to count.

Eight voters, all registered Libertarians, attempted to vote in the wrong party's primary. Voters who have declared a party affiliation may not change their affiliation at the polls. There were no Libertarian candidates in McPherson County's primary election.

Five individuals did not present appropriate identification before Thursday morning's cutoff, and another five did not sign their provisional ballots, which renders their ballots invalid.

Three unaffiliated voters failed to return completed voter affiliation cards, and another three had moved since registering and failed to provide all the information needed to re-register under their new address.