As we near another historic presidential election, the fog of anxiety about the election is returning on a scale we haven’t seen in decades. Donald Trump has repeatedly suggested that the general election may be “rigged” nationwide. He has called on his supporters to monitor the polls on Election Day, and said that voting locations should “have the sheriffs and the police chiefs and everybody watching.” Trump’s running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, doubled down on Trump’s suggestions, telling a New Hampshire audience that “the integrity of ‘one person, one vote’ is at the core of democracy, and that happens one precinct at a time.” Trump and Pence are partly correct: There is great value in having elections monitored. Poll watching helps to preserve an open, transparent democratic process by ensuring that elections are administered in a manner that protects access while inviting scrutiny. Poll observers can ensure the law is followed, provide support for voters and poll workers in navigating often confusing and ever-evolving election regulations. But in nearly a decade of organizing vote-monitoring efforts around the country, I have seen firsthand how volunteer monitors—often positioned as “challengers” at the polls—can intimidate and harass even the most seasoned poll workers and voters, interfere with the process, delay voting, and potentially alter the election’s outcome.
Since 2000, when voting irregularities in Florida cast a pall over the entire presidential election, election monitoring has steadily increased in scope and sophistication. And this November, there will likely be more observers in polling places than ever before.
Some will work to ensure that the voting runs smoothly. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, for example, recently announced its plan for a ten-fold increase in the number of monitors it will place in U.S. polling locations. But others will be there for less altruistic reasons.
Unless states issue clear rules to protect voters from wrongful interference while enabling monitors to observe the vote and provide assistance when needed, this increase in the number of people in the polls—all with varying agendas and intentions—will likely increase chaos and confusion for voters in November.
Full Article: When Poll-Watching Crosses the Line – POLITICO Magazine.