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electionlineWeekly

Want a role on Election Day?
Go work—or watch—the polls

By Wendy Underhill
National Conference of State Legislatures

What’s all this we hear now about partisan poll watchers? Amid the heat of this election, candidates have already begun encouraging more partisan poll watchers to participate on Election Day.

If this worries you, it shouldn't. Poll watchers aren’t watching anyone actually cast a ballot.

Most likely, they’re watching people check in to vote, and reporting back to their local political party headquarters about who has voted, and who still needs a rousing “get out the vote” call.

Sometimes, in some states, poll watchers are authorized to question, or “challenge,” a person’s ability to vote at that location, based on information that indicates he or she doesn’t live in the jurisdiction or for some other concern.

What they aren’t authorized to do is to campaign, to interfere with the voting process, or to talk directly to the voters. Instead, they can observe and report to the administrators if they see a procedural hitch. Traditionally, allowing representatives from major parties observe elections was intended as an integrity check. They still serve this function.

Partisans aren’t the only ones monitoring elections. Read More…

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