Pollwatcher Guidelines

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Vote to Let your Voice Be Heard
Who may appoint poll watchers?
  • Each political party – political party means the organization that nominates candidates for public office.
  • Each candidate in a general or primary election.
  • Any citizens’ organization interested in a question on the ballot.
  • Any citizens’ organization interested in the integrity of the election process.
How many poll watchers may be appointed?
  • Political parties may appoint two poll watchers for each polling location for each election.
  • Each candidate may appoint one or more poll watchers for each polling location. Although multiple poll watchers may be appointed to observe at a given polling place, only one appointed poll watcher may be on duty in a polling place at any given time.
  • Each citizen’s organization may appoint two poll watchers; however, the Shelby County Election Commission (SCEC) may require the organization to produce evidence that it is authorized to appoint watchers.
How are poll watchers appointed?
  • Names must be submitted to SCEC in writing, and be signed by the person or organization authorized to make the appointment.
  • Appointments may designate the same person to watch in more than one polling location.
  • A poll watchers must be age 17 or older by Election Day.
To what locations may poll watchers be appointed?
Early Voting
  • Early Voting Locations
  • Nursing homes
  • Penal institutions
Election Day
  • Precinct polling locations
  • Absentee Counting Board
Post-Election Day
  • Provisional Counting Board
When must appointments be submitted to the SCEC?
Early Voting
  • No later than noon two (2) business days before the first day of Early Voting; or
  • No later than noon two (2) business days before the poll watcher will be present at the early voting site.
Election Day
  • No later than noon two (2) business days before the election.
Post-Election Day
  • No later than noon  two (2) business days before the poll watcher will be present at the Provisional Counting Board.
Poll watchers cannot engage in campaign activities!
  • Absolutely no campaign activities can occur in the polling place or in the 100-foot boundary.
  • Outside the 100-foot boundary/campaign-free zone – it is permitted after removing the poll watcher badge or credentials. Once the poll watcher resumes his/her duties as a poll watcher, all campaign activity must cease.
Who may NOT be appointed as a poll watcher?
  • Anyone who will be, or who is, a candidate for an office on the ballot.
  • The spouse of a candidate.
  • Shelby County Election Commission members.
What must poll watchers do upon arriving at the polls?
  • Display his/her appointment card to the Officer of Elections.
  • Sign the poll watcher register.
  • Wear a badge displaying his/her name, the appointing organization’s name and the words “POLL WATCHER.” The Election Commission will provide badges for candidates or organizations to give to their poll watchers, so it will be clear to Poll Officials who is duly appointed. Poll watchers must wear the badges at all times they are in a polling place.
What activities are permitted?
  • Watch and inspect performance in and around the polling place.
  • Speak to the judges and the Officer of Elections.
  • Challenge the party affliation of a voter in a primary or the right of the voter to vote but only through the judges. 
  • Before the polls open and after they close, inspect tally sheets, poll lists, paper ballots, supplies, and machines.
  • Inspect all ballots while being called and counted.
  • Inspect counters on the machines to verify numbers are entered accurately.
  • Express concern about any aspect of the conduct of the election to the Officer of Elections, the Election Commission or Inspector.
  • Be present during all proceedings at the polling place.
What activities are prohibited?
  • Speak to voters. This includes greeting the voter or standing in the doorway where the voter enters.
  • Interfere with any voter in preparing or casting a ballot.
  • Prevent election officials from performing their duties.
  • Inspect signature lists during election hours.
  • Observe the giving of assistance to a voter.
  • Wear campaign material of any kind during the performance of their duties.
  • Exit the room of the Absentee Counting Board after the actual counting of ballots begins.
  • Possess or use electronic devices when observing the duties of the Absentee Counting Board.
  • Take photographs inside the polling place.
 
 

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