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Poll Watchers

Information Regarding Poll Watchers

Intro

Poll Watchers are always needed throughout the state to help Democratic candidates and the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party encourages anyone interested to participate in the election process. If you are interested in becoming a poll watcher please contact us, contact your county chair, or let your favorite candidate know of your interest.

The following page discusses the duties and some procedures that poll watchers must follow. This page is not intended to provide all of the information relating to poll workers, but it is a start to further your knowledge about the duties and process. We thank you for your interest and hope you will contribute to the Democratic Election process.

Poll Watchers

A watcher represents the interest of one candidate or party at a voting place and looks for any irregularities that might be harmful to the candidate or party. Each party entering candidates in a general election and each candidate at a primary is entitled to appoint a watcher for each voting place. The watcher must be a resident and qualified elector of Alabama. §17-8-7.

In general elections, a watcher may be nominated by each party by a writing submitted to the inspector by the chairman of the appropriate local executive committee or nominee for office or beat committeeman. A candidate may have a single watcher in the polling place that the candidate appoints and files appointment with the inspector. §17-13-11.

In elections where there are no candidates, each political party may nominate watchers. The nominating party, in person, must appoint a watcher in writing and sign it. The watcher then presents the signed paper to the election inspectors at the polling place where the watcher is going to observe. §§17-8-7, 17-13-11, 11-46-35, 11-46-106.

Number

In a primary election any candidate may have one watcher in a polling place. §17-13-11. In a general election, there may be one watcher in a polling place for each party or organization which has nominated candidates for that election. §17-8-7.

Appointment

In primaries each poll watcher's appointment must be in writing and signed by the candidate. § 17-13-11. In general elections poll watchers may be named by the chairman of the county executive committee, by nominees for office, or by beat committeemen so long as the limit on one watcher per party or organization per polling place is not exceeded. §17-8-. The general election law does not specifically require that the appointments be in writing, but written appointments can be very helpful in avoiding confusion over who represents whom.

Time

Poll watchers may be present in the polling place from the time that the preliminaries of opening the polls begins until the results are posted and the certificates of the results are signed. §17-8-7.

Oath

Each watcher must be sworn to faithfully observe the rule of law for the conduct of election. §17-8-7. The oath for poll watchers is the same as that taken by poll workers.

Permissible Activities

Poll watchers may observe the conduct of the election. They may be present to observe the preliminaries at the opening of the polls at 7:00 a.m., observe the voters during the day and see the ballots as they are counted at the end of the day. §17-8-7.

They may not simultaneously serve as election officials. §17-13-11. In addition, poll watchers must observe the general rules for the conduct of the polling place. They may not disturb or attempt to influence voters, campaign or electioneer. §§17-17-21, 17-13-11, 17-17-38,17-17-43.

They should refrain while inside the polling place from wearing buttons, badges, or ribbons which have a candidate's name printed on them. 193 Att. Gen. Op. 42 (Opinion to Hon. L.W. Noonan, 1983).

Alabama Election Handbook, Fourteenth Edition, pages 85-86 and 127-128 and the Code of Alabama (1975) Sections (§§) sourced above.