Poll Watcher Guidelines

Quick Summary:

  • Must have a certificate originally issued by the county and must be a registered voter in the county. Certificates must be filled out in their entirety and are not transferable.
  • If poll workers have any question about an individual’s identity they can check their identification. Call the Election Office and we will verify.
  • Party can appoint 3 watchers per precinct, a candidate 2 per precinct. But only one watcher per candidate and one per party at a time can be present in the polling place.
  • Must be allowed in at the time poll workers arrive if requested and they are allowed to remain during closing procedures and processing of absentees.
  • They are allowed in the polling place, but not in the so-called “enclosed space” that includes the machines and poll workers’ table. They must be allowed to hear the names being called, however, so they should be a reasonable distance from the person working the poll book.
  • Watchers can challenge voter and require proof “of his qualifications.” Poll worker should verify ID.
  • When there are NO voters, watchers can request to inspect the voting check list and either of the Numbered List of Voters books, but they must be supervised by Judge or another poll worker and are not permitted to remove the books from the poll workers’ table.
  •  A watcher who loses certificate can petition court for a new one.

Below is the formal document from the PA Department of State. You may want to print this document and show the Judge of Elections if there are issues during election day.

Direct link:
http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt?open=18&objID=488600&mode=2

Archived file (use if the link above no longer works):
watcher_candidate_rights

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