They have played part in making sure that elections run smoothly.
The idea, which has been in use for over one century, is simple: allowing a variety of eyes to eye on polling stations is generally a way of ensuring that the elections are fair.
As elections for the midterms are nearing and political parties are promising to appear more prominent and assertive than the poll watchers in the past, we cannot think for sure that peace will prevail.
Initial reports of activities by election watchers across a variety of areas are worrying. In Arizona the groups are looking over ballot drop boxes, snapping pictures of voters and their cars. The actions of the group have led to complaints of harassment, as well as two lawsuits.
In the early voting for the primary within the Arizona’s Pima County in August, officials noted that people “often experienced fear of being intimidated and may have complained about harassing behaviour.” Even though registered political poll monitors generally adhered to the guidelines, a more serious issue was arose from “unaffiliated people who wanted the right to access our polling places to observe.” Some staff members reported being frightened.
In the wake of reports that Trump-supporting Republicans have begun to recruit thousands of people to watch the election attorney general Merrick Garland has said that”the Justice Department “will not permit voters to feel scared” when voting.
A Little History
The first observers of polls were introduced in the years after the Civil War when states replaced party leaders in overseeing elections. These were the years when secret ballots were first introduced and a variety of regulations governing the polling places. Parties began to send people to polling places to monitor one another and ensure that the rules were adhered to.
This practice has been in place ever since and it’s not only political parties that provide poll monitors. Also, individual candidates. The Trump as well as the Biden campaigns each enlisted hundreds of poll watchers for 2020 for instance. Furthermore, some states allow civic groups to choose poll watchers.
Many states have formal procedures for accreditation of poll observers. Chairs of parties, candidates as well as organizations, submit names that may require the approval of local officials in the election or by secretaries of the state.
States’ laws prevent people who watch the election from having direct contact with voters. However, certain states permit them to contest the eligibility of a voter to elections officials. The laws of the state also permit people to observe voting process.
State-specific rules for voting vary greatly. Many states stipulate the maximum number of observers who are allowed to be in attendance and what their restrictions and privileges are. Some states allow for voters to check their signatures on rosters.
Though states do not generally have to require that poll monitors be certified, they’re required to be aware of what they’re allowed to do and not perform. However, some states have expanded the scope of what they are able to do.
- In Texas the state of Texas, voters have the ability to “see and listen to” the election officials and voters their activities, except for those casting their ballots. Additionally, they are now able to freely mobility “where elections are taking place in the area where they are serving.” In addition, election officials can be sued for obstruction of the view of observers or “distance away from the event to the extent that they render observation unreasonably ineffective.”
- If you live in New Hampshire, a poll person can be asked to “see and listen to” the count of the ballots, however they are not allowed to be within 4 feet of the count.
- In Iowa elections, a poll official could be charged with the most serious of misdemeanors in the event that they hinder the views of a poll observer.
- In Missouri the new law allows poll watchers to have broad rights to monitor every aspect of the process of voting and removes the need for those who watch the polls reside within the specified jurisdiction. Election officials can’t keep the legally appointed poll watchers off from polling places and they could be subject to an maximum fine of one year’s imprisonment and a fine up to $2,500 or either.
Get Ready to be ready for Election Day
Many partisan poll watchersthe ones who represent candidates, political parties or groups that are interested with ballot issues or ballot questions, etc. They are well-aware of the regulations. However, issues can occur when states have recently expanded their regulations. But, a larger issue can arise due to groups like the ones in Pima County, who believe they have the right to have access to places that allow them to watch the voting process.
There’s no reason for you to believe that elections will run without a hitch in the vast majority of polling places. Still, it’s an excellent idea to know the laws that govern your rights before you head to the voting booth.
One of the most crucial things to be aware of is that intimidation is a crime under federal laws. It can come in a range different forms, including threats, verbal harassment or blocking entry points.
If you are a victim of any voter harassment There are a variety of things you can take care of.
- If you’re concerned about violent attack, dial 9-1-1.
- immediately notify an official at the polling place.
- Note down what you witnessed or felt.
- Inform your local police department, the Election Protection Hotline (1-866-OUR-VOTE) or the Justice Department’s Voting Rights Hotline (1-800-253-3931) as well as the local police department.
If you’re able to vote, you are entitled to conduct it in a peaceful manner.
The role of poll watchers is to be a beneficial factor in the elections of our country by helping to ensure an open and transparent process. There are concerns about promises made by certain organizations to send more poll watchers from partisans to midterm polling places.
There is no need to resolve the problem on your own. Hire a Lawyer
A consultation with a lawyer could aid you in understanding your options and the best way to ensure your rights. Browse our lawyer directory for a lawyer in close proximity to you that can assist.