WASHINGTON (AP) — What are the rules around poll watching on Election Day in the United States?
President Donald Trump has been urging his supporters to go the polls and “watch very carefully,” raising concerns about possible voter intimidation.
Monitoring the votes at polling places is allowed in most states, but rules vary and it’s not a free-for-all.
States have established rules, in part, to avoid any hint that observers will harass or intimidate voters.
There is a long history of whites intimidating and preventing Blacks from voting in the South. And the Republican Party had been prohibited from employing poll monitors until recently because of its own history of using them as a strategy for intimidation.
Keeping watch at the polls
- Partisan poll watchers observe voting activity on Election Day to make sure their side gets a fair chance to vote.
- States regulate who can be a poll watcher; many are appointed by parties, civic groups or candidates. Often they are required to be registered voters themselves, either in the state or the jurisdiction where they are observing.
- Some states limit the number of poll watchers who can be present at one time at a polling location.
- Poll watchers may observe voting operations and, in some cases, vote counting. They can report any irregularities they witness to election administrators or party officials.
- Poll watchers may NOT obstruct or intimidate voters or interfere with voting activities.