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Poll Watcher

WHAT IS A POLL WATCHER?

  • Poll Watchers are representatives of a candidate, political party, civic organization or proposition who is legally in the polling place to observe the conduct of the election

QUALIFICATIONS:

  • Registered to vote in Illinois
  • Must be affiliated with the party or organization he/she is representing
  • Possess credentials issued by the Illinois State Board of Elections

HOW TO OBTAIN CREDENTIALS:

  • Poll watchers may represent:
    • Established political parties
    • Candidates
    • Qualified organizations of citizens
    • State nonpartisan civic organizations
    • Organized proponents or opponents of ballot propositions
  • Credentials are issued by:
    • The election authority (County clerk or Board of election commissioners)
    • Illinois State Board of Elections
  • Credentials must be presented by the poll watcher to the Election Judges immediately upon entering the polling place.

RIGHTS OF THE POLL WATCHER:

  • Before the first ballot is cast, Poll Watchers may observe that the ballot box is empty
  • Poll Watchers may position themselves near enough to the Election Judges to examine the applications for ballot
  • Poll Watchers may observe as the judges compare the voter applicant’s signature on the application with the signature on the registration records
  • Poll Watchers may watch as the judges initial and distribute the ballots to voters, and as the ballots are deposited into the ballot box after the voter has voted
  • Poll Watchers may challenge a person’s right to vote. A reason for the challenge must be stated (i.e., voter already voted, the voter moved, or the person lacks qualifications)
  • The Election Judges determine whether or not to sustain a challenge
  • Poll Watchers may observe the counting procedures after the polls close and at the central counting location(s) established by the election authority
  • Tally the vote after the polls are closed
  • Certify the election results in that precinct

NUMBER OF POLL WATCHERS ALLOWED PER POLLING PLACE:

  • Each candidate may appoint 2 Poll Watchers per precinct.
  • Established political parties may appoint 2 Poll Watchers per precinct.
  • All other organizations may appoint 1 Poll Watcher per precinct.
  • Exception: If over-crowding interferes with the orderly conduct of the election, the Election Judges may limit the number of Poll Watchers.
  • Exception: Election Judges may cause the removal of any Poll Watcher who is disrupting the election process.

WHAT SHOULD A POLL WATCHER DO IF HE/SHE OBSERVES AN ADMINISTRATIVE ERROR OR AN APPARENT VIOLATION OF THE ELECTION JUDGE OR VOTERS:

  • Politely inform the Election Judges.
  • If the error / violation continues:
    • Record his/her observations,
    • Immediately contact the election authority, and
    • Remain at the polling place until proper authorities arrive.
  • NEVER argue with the Election Judges
  • NEVER interfere with the election process

THINGS TO REMEMBER:

  • Poll Watchers are official OBSERVERS ONLY. Observe before, during, and after the polls close.
  • Poll Watchers must present valid credentials upon entering the polling place.
  • Election Judges are the sole authority in the polling place on Election Day.
  • No person, except a judge, may handle or touch election supplies or materials.
  • A Law Enforcement Official may be in the polling place to preserve order and carry out LAWFUL directions given by the Election Judges.
  • Electioneering or any type of campaigning must not take place within the Campaign Free Zone (100 horizontal feet from the entrance to the room in which the voting is being conducted).
  • Where ballots are counted in the office of the election authority, each political party, candidate, qualified organization of citizens, State nonpartisan civic organizations, or organized proponents or opponents of ballot propositions shall be entitled to have 1 Poll Watcher for each panel of Election Judges.
  • Poll Watchers shall be permitted to observe ALL proceedings and view all reasonably requested records relating to the conduct of the election, provided the secrecy of the ballot is not impinged.
  • Poll Watchers may be appointed to observe early voting by personal appearance at each permanent and temporary polling place where early voting is conducted.

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