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.
Nonpartisan election observers are also out and about during general elections. Some are academics, some are international observers, some are representing citizen groups and some are just interested citizens. The Carter Center and NCSL teamed up this year to figure out exactly who’s doing all these observations, and why they do it.
“Election observation helps to strengthen election processes by providing information and recommendations to hard-working and over-stretched election administrators as the election unfolds,” says Avery Davis-Roberts, from the Carter Center. “Here in the United States, the rules and regulations about who can observe what, when and where vary greatly across jurisdictions. Having clearer rules about observation and observer access can really help to institutionalize trust and good communication between observers and election administrators.”
Full Article: electionlineWeekly.