State Laws on Authorized Poll Watchers & Voter Challenges

September 2018
State Individuals Authorized to Serve as Appointed/Designated Poll Watchers or Challengers and Other Authorized Polling Place Observers Individuals Authorized to Challenge a Voter’s Eligibility on Election Day
Alabama In general elections, a poll watcher must be appointed by the chairman of the party’s county executive committee, or by a nominee, or by a beat committeeman. Each watcher shall be a resident and qualified elector of the State of Alabama. Election officials, including returning officers, may not serve as poll watchers. (Alabama Code § 17-8-7). An election inspector may challenge an individual’s eligibility to vote. (Alabama Code 17-10-2)
Alaska One or more persons may be appointed as a poll watcher for each precinct or counting center for any election. Poll watchers are appointed by: the precinct party committee where an organized precinct committee exists; the district party committee where no organized precinct committee exists; the state party chair where no precinct or district committee exists; candidates not representing a political party; organizations or organized groups that sponsor oppose an initiative, referendum or recall. A watcher must be a United States citizen. (Alaska Stat. § 15-10-170). Every election official shall question, and every watcher and any other person qualified to vote in the precinct may question, a person attempting to vote if the questioner has good reason to suspect that the questioned person is not qualified under AS 15.05. (Alaska Stat. § 15-15-210)
Arizona The county chairman of each party may designate a party agent or representative and alternates for a polling place in the precinct who may act as challengers for the party which appointed him. At each voting place, one challenger for each political party may be present. (Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 16-590) Any qualified elector of the county may orally challenge a person offering to vote as not qualified under section 16-121.01 or on the ground that the person has voted before at that election. (Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 16-591)
Arkansas Poll watchers shall include any: (1) candidate in person, but only during the counting and tabulation of ballots and the processing of absentee ballots; (2) authorized representative of a candidate; (3) authorized representative of a group seeking the passage or defeat of a measure on the ballot; and (4) authorized representative of a political party with a candidate on the ballot. Only one authorized poll watcher per candidate, group, or party at any one given time may be officially recognized as a poll watcher at each location within a polling site where voters identify themselves to election officials. (Ark. Code Ann. § 7-5-312). A poll watcher may challenge a voter on the grounds that the voter is not eligible to vote in the precinct or that the voter has previously voted at that election. (Ark. Code Ann. § 7-5-312)
California See Elections Observation Rights and Responsibilities, California Office of Secretary of State. On the day of the election no person, other than a member of a precinct board or other official responsible for the conduct of the election, shall challenge or question any voter concerning the voter's qualifications to vote. (California Elections Code Ann. § 14240).
Colorado Each participating political party or issue committee whose candidate or issue is on the ballot, and each unaffiliated and write-in candidate whose name is on the ballot for a general or congressional vacancy election, is entitled to have no more than one watcher at any one time in each voter service and polling center in the county and at each place where votes are counted. The chairperson of the county central committee of each major political party, the county chairperson or other authorized official of each minor political party, the issue committee, or the write-in or unaffiliated candidate shall certify the names of one or more persons selected as watchers on forms provided by the county clerk and recorder and submit the names of the persons selected as watchers to the county clerk and recorder. (Colo. Rev. Stat. § 1-7-106; 1-7-108). An election judge shall challenge any person intending to vote who the judge believes is not an eligible elector. In addition, challenges may be made by watchers or any eligible elector of the precinct. (Colo. Rev. Stat. § 1-9-201;also see 1-9-203).
Connecticut Each registrar may appoint one or more challengers in his town or district, one of whom may be present at the offering of any vote. (Conn. Gen. Stat. § 9-232) Each registrar may appoint one or more challengers in his town or district, one of whom may be present at the offering of any vote; and any such challenger or any elector may challenge the right of any person offering to vote, on the ground of want of identity with the person on whose name the vote is offered, or disfranchisement or lack of bona fide residence, and the moderator shall decide upon the right of the person so challenged to vote. (Conn. Gen. Stat. § 9-232)
Delaware Each of the political parties, acting through their respective county committees, may appoint and accredit some suitable person as a challenger. One challenger from any political party which is represented by a candidate in that district may be present inside the polling place and shall be permitted to observe the conduct of the election and all the election records. (Del. Code Ann. tit. 15, § 4934). The following persons shall be admitted to the voting room: members and employees of the Department identified by a badge or written authorization; the State Election Commissioner and the Commissioner's employees identified by a badge or written authorization; persons voting and waiting to vote, or a child lawfully accompanying such a person; one challenger from a political party with a candidate on the ballot; persons with business in the building that is not connected to the election; a person or persons deemed necessary to the conduct of the election by majority vote of the inspector and judges. (Del. Code Ann. tit. 15, § 4933 for information on other individuals allowed in the polling place). Each of the political parties, acting through their respective county committees, may appoint and accredit some suitable person as a challenger. (Del. Code Ann. tit. 15, § 4934; also see 4934-4941).
Florida Each political party and each candidate may have one watcher in each polling room or early voting area at any one time during the election. A political committee formed for the specific purpose of expressly advocating the passage or defeat of an issue on the ballot may have one watcher for each polling room or early voting area at any one time during the election. Each poll watcher shall be a qualified and registered elector of the county in which he or she serves. (Fla. Stat. § 101.131). Any registered elector or poll watcher of a county may challenge the right of a person to vote in that county. (Fla. Stat. § 101.111).
Georgia In a primary or run-off primary, each candidate entitled to have his or her name placed on the primary or run-off primary ballot may submit the name of one poll watcher for each precinct in which he or she wishes to have an observer to the chairperson or secretary of the appropriate party executive committee at least 21 days prior to such primary or 14 days prior to such run-off primary. The appropriate party executive committee shall designate at least seven days prior to such primary or run-off primary no more than two poll watchers for each precinct, such poll watchers to be selected by the committee from the list submitted by party candidates. In an election or run-off election, each political party and political body shall each be entitled to designate, at least seven days prior to such election or run-off election, no more than two official poll watchers in each precinct to be selected by the appropriate party or body executive committee. Each independent candidate shall be entitled to designate one poll watcher in each precinct. In addition, candidates running in a nonpartisan election shall be entitled to designate one poll watcher in each precinct. In an election or run-off election, each political party and political body, which body is registered pursuant to Code Section 21-2- 110 and has nominated a candidate for state-wide office, shall additionally be entitled to designate, at least 14 days prior to such election or run-off election, no more than 25 official state-wide poll watchers to be selected by the appropriate party or body executive committee. Each independent candidate shall also be entitled to designate no more than 25 official state-wide poll watchers. In addition, candidates running in a state-wide nonpartisan election shall be entitled to designate no more than 25 official state-wide poll watchers. (Ga. Code Ann. § 21-2-408). Any elector of the county or municipality may challenge the right of any other elector of the county or municipality, whose name appears on the list of electors, to vote in an election. (Ga. Code Ann. § 21-2-230).
Hawaii Each qualified political party shall be entitled to appoint no more than one watcher who may be present at any time in each precinct and absentee polling place in which the candidates of that political party are on the ballot. All watchers so appointed shall be registered voters. (Haw. Rev. Stat. § 11-77). Any voter rightfully in the polling place may challenge the right to vote of any person who comes to the precinct officials for voting purposes. The challenge shall be on the grounds that the voter is not the person the voter alleges to be, or that the voter is not entitled to vote in that precinct. (Haw. Rev. Stat. § 11-25).
Idaho The county clerk shall, upon receipt of a written request, direct that the election judges permit one (1) person authorized by each political party, if the election is a partisan election, to be at the polling place for the purpose of challenging voters, and shall, if requested, permit any one (1) person authorized by a candidate, several candidates or political party, to be present to serve as a watcher to observe the conduct of the election. (Idaho Code § 34-304). At the time of any election, any registered elector may challenge the entry of an elector's name as it appears in the election register. (Idaho Code § 34-431)
Illinois Each established political party shall be entitled to appoint two poll watchers per precinct. Such poll watchers must be affiliated with the political party for which they are pollwatching. For all elections, the pollwatchers must be registered to vote in Illinois. Each candidate shall be entitled to appoint two poll watchers per precinct. For all elections, the pollwatchers must be registered to vote in Illinois. Each organization of citizens within the county or political subdivision, which has among its purposes or interests the investigation or prosecution of election frauds…, shall be entitled to appoint one pollwatcher per precinct. For all elections, the pollwatcher must be registered to vote in Illinois. Each State nonpartisan civic organization within the county or political subdivision shall be entitled to appoint one pollwatcher per precinct, provided that no more than 2 pollwatchers appointed by State nonpartisan civic organizations shall be present in a precinct polling place at the same time. The pollwatchers must be registered to vote in Illinois. (10 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/17-23; also see Illinois Guide for Pollwatchers) An election judge, a pollwatcher, or a voter may challenge a person’s right to vote. (See Illinois Guide for Pollwatchers)
Indiana Watchers may be appointed by the state chairman and county chairman of bona fide political parties, independent candidates for federal office certain candidates, the county election board in certain votes on public questions, or by the media to monitor activities at the polling place. Each political party, independent candidate, and media may have only one watcher at each precinct at any time during Election Day. A watcher must be a registered voter of the county. (Indiana Code 3-6-8-1; 3-6-8-2.5). A member of the precinct election board (the inspector or either judge); a poll clerk (but only if the clerk does so based on a questionable signature by the voter on the poll list); or a challenger appointed by a candidate, or a political party, with the proper credentials. (2012 Indiana Election Day Handbook).
Iowa Poll watchers may be appointed by the following: political party executive or central committees; non-party political organizations (NPPOs); candidates who are “Nominated by Petition,” and groups opposing or supporting public measures on the ballot. Poll watchers may also be called challenging committees or observers. Poll watchers acting as challengers must be registered voters in the county where the challenge occurs. While the polls are open on election day, there is a limit to the number of poll watchers that can be in a polling place: 3 appointed by each political party that has a candidate on the ballot; 1 appointed by each NPPO that has a candidate on the ballot; 1 appointed by each candidate nominated by petition, and 3 for public measures on the ballot (except for primary and general elections). (Iowa Poll Watchers Guide). The following persons shall be permitted to be present at and in the immediate vicinity of the polling places, provided they do not solicit votes: a person who is by law authorized to perform or is charged with the performance of official duties at the election; any number of persons, not exceeding three at a time from each political party having candidates to be voted for at such election, to act as challenging committees, who are appointed and accredited by the executive or central committee of such political party or organization; any number of persons not exceeding three at a time from each of such political parties, appointed and accredited in the same manner as prescribed in subsection 2 for challenging committees, and any number of persons not exceeding three at a time appointed as observers under subsection 5, to witness the counting of ballots; any peace officer assigned or called upon to keep order or maintain compliance with the provisions of this chapter, upon request of the commissioner or of the chairperson of the precinct election board; one observer at a time representing any nonparty political organization, any candidate nominated by petition pursuant to chapter 45, or any other nonpartisan candidate in a city or school election, appearing on the ballot of the election in progress. Candidates who send observers to the polls shall provide each observer with a letter of appointment in the form prescribed by the state commissioner; any persons expressing an interest in a ballot issue to be voted upon at an election except a general or primary election. Any such person shall file a notice of intent to serve as an observer with the commissioner before election day. If more than three persons file a notice of intent to serve at the same time with respect to ballot issues at an election, the commissioner shall appoint from those submitting a notice of intent the three persons who may serve at that time as observers, and shall provide a schedule to all persons who filed notices of intent. The appointees, whenever possible, shall include both opponents and proponents of the ballot issues; any person authorized by the commissioner, in consultation with the secretary of state, for the purposes of conducting and attending educational voting programs for youth; reporters, photographers, and other staff representing the news media. (Iowa Code § 49.104) Any person offering to vote may be challenged as unqualified by any precinct election official or registered voter. It is the duty of each official to challenge any person offering to vote whom the official knows or suspects is not duly qualified. (Iowa Code § 49.79).
Kansas Each person who is authorized to appoint poll agents may appoint one per polling place. Each person appointed to be an authorized poll agent shall be a registered Kansas voter; a member of any candidate's immediate family; or be a person under 18 years of age but at least 14 years of age who meets all other requirements for qualification of an elector except that of age (Kan. Stat. Ann. § 25-3005a; Kansas Secretary of State). At most points in the electoral process, interested individuals and groups may observe the proceedings at the precinct polling sites, at the county election office, or at the county or state canvass. The principal means recognized in state law for public observation of electoral proceedings is the authorized poll agent. Poll agents are commonly referred to as poll watchers. Each of the following persons is automatically a poll agent because of the position they hold: state or county party chair; chair of a committee formed to support or oppose a question submitted election; candidate; political party precinct committee man or woman; write‐in candidate for statewide office who has filed an affidavit of write‐in candidacy with the Secretary of State. A person may be appointed to be a poll agent by one of the persons listed above. Election observers—In some cases political organizations, including international groups and foreign groups, will request permission from the county election officer or the Secretary of State to observe the voting process in a county or counties. The Secretary of State or county election officer may grant permission on a case-by-case basis, reminding all such groups that they must follow all laws and all policies established by the election officer. (Kansas Election Administration Standards). It shall be the duty of each judge of election to challenge any person offering to vote, whom the judge shall know or suspect not to be qualified as an elector. (Kan. Stat. Ann. § 25-414).
Kentucky The county executive committee of any political party having a ticket to elect at any regular or special election may designate not more than two (2) challengers to be present at and witness the holding of the election in each precinct in the county. (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 117.315; also see §§ 117.315 - 117.317). No person, other than the election officers, challengers, person assisting voters, and a minor child in the company of a voter, shall be permitted within the voting room while the vote is being polled, except as follows: (a) For the purpose of voting; (b) By authority of the election officers to keep order and enforce the law; (c) With the express approval of the county board of elections to repair or replace voting equipment that is malfunctioning and to provide additional voting equipment; or (d) At the voter's discretion, a minor child in the company of a voter may accompany the voter into a voting booth or other private area provided for casting a vote. (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. §117.235). The county executive committee of any political party having a ticket to elect at any regular or special election may designate not more than two (2) challengers to be present at and witness the holding of the election in each precinct in the county. (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 117.315; also see 117.316).
Louisiana A qualified voter of the state of Louisiana who is not entitled to assistance in voting and is not a candidate in the election may serve as a watcher. If the number of watchers inside a polling place is so great as to interfere with the orderly conduct of the election, the commissioners shall regulate the number of watchers inside the polling place for each precinct so that the election may be conducted in an orderly manner. (Louisiana Rev. Statutes § 18:427). A commissioner, watcher, or qualified voter may challenge a person applying to vote in a primary or general election. (Louisiana Rev. Statutes § 18:565).
Maine Municipalities must allow at least one worker from each political party to remain outside the guardrail enclosure as a pollwatcher. (21-A Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 627). A voter of a municipality or an election official may challenge the right of another to vote at an election in that municipality. (21-A Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 673).
Maryland The following persons or entities have the right to designate a registered voter as a challenger or a watcher at each place of registration and election: the State Board for any polling place in the State; a local board for any polling place located in the county of the local board; a candidate; a political party; any other group of voters supporting or opposing a candidate, principle, or proposition on the ballot. An election judge shall permit an individual other than an accredited challenger or watcher who desires to challenge the right to vote of any other individual to enter the polling place for that purpose. A majority of the election judges may limit the number of nonaccredited challengers and watchers allowed in the polling place at any one time for the purpose of challenging the right of an individual to vote. A nonaccredited challenger or watcher shall leave the polling place as soon as a majority of the election judges decides the right to vote of the individual challenged by the challenger or watcher. (Md. Ann. Code Art. 33, § 10-311). An election judge shall allow the following individuals to have access to the voting room at a polling place: a voter; an individual who accompanies a voter in need of assistance in accordance with § 10- 310(c) of this subtitle; polling place staff; a member or other representative of the State Board or local board; an accredited watcher or challenger; an individual under the age of 18 who accompanies a voter; and any other individual authorized by the State Board or local board. (Md. Ann. Code Art. 33, § 10-308 for information on individuals authorized to be in the polling place). An election judge shall permit an individual other than an accredited challenger or watcher who desires to challenge the right to vote of any other individual to enter the polling place for that purpose. (Md. Ann. Code Art. 33, § 10-311). The right of an individual to vote may be challenged at the polls only on the grounds of identity. (Md. Ann. Code Art. 33, § 10-312).
Massachusetts The state committee of a political party may appoint a person to act as a challenger of voters at any polling place in the commonwealth at a state election (Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 54, § 85A). To achieve the legal requirement that the election be held in public view, observers shall be allowed inside the polling place, outside the guard rail, unless they are disorderly or obstruct the access of voters. Observers may keep notes including marked voting lists. If there are so many observers in the polling place that they obstruct voters, they may be asked to cooperate in collecting information. The warden may exclude from the polling place any person who is disorderly or who obstructs the access of voters. (950 C.M.R. § 54.04(22a). Any election officer or other person may challenge a person's right to vote for any legal cause (Massachusetts Secretary of State Election Day Legal Summary).
Michigan At an election, a political party or an incorporated organization or organized committee of citizens interested in the adoption or defeat of a ballot question being voted for or upon at the election, or interested in preserving the purity of elections and in guarding against the abuse of the elective franchise, may designate challengers as provided in this act. A political party, incorporated organization, or organized committee of interested citizens may designate not more than 2 challengers to serve in a precinct at any 1 time. A challenger shall be a registered elector of the state (Mich. Comp. Laws § 168.730). An election is an open process that may be observed by any interested person. A person who wishes to observe the election process -- who is not a qualified election challenger -- is commonly called a “poll watcher.” (Michigan Secretary of State, The Appointment, Rights, and Duties of Election Challengers and Poll Watchers). At an election, a political party or an incorporated organization or organized committee of citizens interested in the adoption or defeat of a ballot question being voted for or upon at the election, or interested in preserving the purity of elections and in guarding against the abuse of the elective franchise, may designate challengers (Mich. Comp. Laws § 168.730). An election inspector shall challenge an applicant applying for a ballot if the inspector knows or has good reason to suspect that the applicant is not a qualified and registered elector of the precinct, or if a challenge appears in connection with the applicant's name in the registration book. A registered elector of the precinct present in the polling place may challenge the right of anyone attempting to vote if the elector knows or has good reason to suspect that individual is not a registered elector in that precinct. (Mich. Comp. Laws § 168.727).
Minnesota At election to fill partisan offices, the chair of an authorized committee of each major political party may appoint by written certificate voters from that political party to act as challengers of voters at the polling place for each precinct. Only one challenger from each major political party for each precinct shall be allowed to remain in the polling place at one time. A challenger must be a resident of the state. (Minn. Stat.§ 204C.07). Representatives of the secretary of state's office, the county auditor's office, and the municipal or school district clerk's office may be present at the polling place to observe election procedures. Except for these representatives, election judges, sergeants-at-arms, and challengers, an individual may remain inside the polling place during voting hours only while voting or registering to vote, providing proof of residence for an individual who is registering to vote, or assisting a disabled voter or a voter who is unable to read English. During voting hours no one except individuals receiving, marking, or depositing ballots shall approach within six feet of a voting booth, ballot counter, or electronic voting equipment, unless lawfully authorized to do so by an election judge or the individual is an election judge monitoring the operation of the ballot counter or electronic voting equipment. Teachers and elementary or secondary school students participating in an educational activity may be present at the polling place during voting hours. (Minn. Stat. § 204C.06 for information on other individuals allowed in the polling place. An election judge, an authorized challenger or other voter may challenge an individual, based upon the personal knowledge they know that the voter is not eligible to vote at that precinct. (Minnesota Secretary of State, Voting Challenges).
Mississippi The following persons shall be designated as authorized challengers and shall be allowed to challenge the qualifications of any person offering to vote (a) any candidate whose name is on the ballot in the precinct in which the challenge is made; (b) any official poll watcher of a candidate whose name is on the ballot in the precinct in which the challenge is made; (c) any official poll watcher of a political party for the precinct in which the challenge is made; (d) any qualified elector from the precinct in which the challenge is made; or (e) any manager, clerk or poll worker in the polling place where the person whose qualifications are challenged is offering to vote. Each candidate on the ballot shall have the right, either in person or by a credentialed poll watcher, to be present at the polling place. In general and special elections, each political party that has a candidate on the ballot shall have the right to be represented at the polling place by two (2) credentialed poll watchers. A credentialed poll watcher means a poll watcher of good conduct and behavior, authorized in writing to act as the representative of a candidate on the ballot or political party that has a candidate on the ballot. (Miss. Code. Ann. § 23-15-571; 23-15-577). The following persons shall be designated as authorized challengers and shall be allowed to challenge the qualifications of any person offering to vote (a) any candidate whose name is on the ballot in the precinct in which the challenge is made; (b) any official poll watcher of a candidate whose name is on the ballot in the precinct in which the challenge is made; (c) any official poll watcher of a political party for the precinct in which the challenge is made; (d) any qualified elector from the precinct in which the challenge is made; or (e) any manager, clerk or poll worker in the polling place where the person whose qualifications are challenged is offering to vote. (Miss. Code. Ann. § 23-15-571; 23- 15-577).
Missouri The chair of the county committee of each political party named on the ballot shall have the right to designate a challenger for each polling place, who may be present during the hours of voting, and a challenger for each location at which absentee ballots are counted, who may be present while the ballots are being prepared for counting and counted. All persons selected as challengers shall have the same qualifications required by section 115.085 for election judges, except that such challenger shall be a registered voter in the jurisdiction of the election authority for which the challenger is designated as a challenger. (Mo. Rev. Stat. § 15-115.105.1). Who may be admitted to the polling place: except election authority personnel, election judges, watchers and challengers, law enforcement officials at the request of election officials or in the line of duty, minor children under the age of eighteen accompanying an adult who is in the process of voting, international observers who have registered as such with the election authority, persons designated by the election authority to administer a simulated youth election for persons ineligible to vote because of their age, members of the news media who present identification satisfactory to the election judges and who are present only for the purpose of bona fide news coverage, provided that such coverage does not disclose how any voter cast the voter's ballot on any question or candidate or in the case of a primary election on which party ballot they voted or does not interfere with the general conduct of the election as determined by the election judges or election authority, and registered voters who are eligible to vote at the polling place, no person shall be admitted to a polling place. (Mo. Rev. Stat. § 15-115.409 for information on other individuals authorized to be in the polling place). The identity or qualifications of any person offering to vote may be challenged by any election authority personnel, any registered voter, or any duly authorized challenger at the polling place. (Mo. Rev. Stat. § 15-115.429.1).
Montana The election judges shall permit one poll watcher from each political party to be stationed close to the poll lists in a location that does not interfere with the election procedures. A candidate may not serve as a poll watcher at a polling place where electors are voting on ballots with the candidate's name on them. (Mont. Code. Ann. § 13-13-120). An elector's right to vote may be challenged at any time by any registered elector by the challenger filling out and signing an affidavit stating the grounds of the challenge and providing any evidence supporting the challenge to the election administrator or, on election day, to an election judge. (Mont. Code. Ann. § 13- 13-301)
Nebraska N/A Any person offering to vote, even though such person is registered, may be challenged as unqualified by any inspector, judge or clerk of election, or registered voter. The judge or clerk of election shall challenge any person offering to vote whom he or she knows or suspects not to be duly qualified. (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 32-926)
Nevada The county clerk shall allow members of the general public to observe the conduct of voting at a polling place. A member of the general public does not include any person who: gathers information for communication to the public; is employed or engaged by or has contracted with a newspaper, periodical, press association, or radio or television station; and is acting solely within his or her professional capacity. (Nev. Rev. Stat. § 293.274). A person applying to vote may be challenged orally by any registered voter of the precinct upon the ground that he or she is not the person entitled to vote as claimed or has voted before at the same election. (Nev. Rev. Stat. § 293.303)
New Hampshire The state committee of a political party may appoint a person to act as challenger of voters at any polling place in the state at a state election. (N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 666.4). The attorney general may appoint a person to act as challenger of voters at any polling place in the state at a state election. (N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 666.5). A voter offering to vote at any state election may be challenged by any other voter registered in the town or ward in which the election is held, an election official, a challenger appointed by a political committee pursuant to RSA 666:4, or a challenger appointed by the attorney general pursuant to RSA 666:5. (N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 659. 27).
New Jersey The chairman of the county committee of any political party that has duly nominated any candidate for public office to be voted for at an election by all the voters within the county or any political division thereof greater than a single municipality, or where the election is within and for a single municipality only, or any subdivision thereof, then the chairman of the municipal committee of the political party making such nomination within and for such single municipality, or subdivision thereof, may appoint two challengers for each election district in the chairman's county or municipality, as the case may be. (N.J. Stat. Ann. § 19:7-1). No person shall be allowed or permitted to be present in the polling place or polling room during the progress of the election except the officers connected with the election, persons connected with the operation of a simulated election for minors, the several candidates, the duly authorized challengers, such voters as are present for the purpose of voting and their dependent children, minors present for the purpose of voting in a simulated election, and such officers as may be duly detailed to be present, for preserving the peace or enforcing the provisions hereof. (N.J. Stat. Ann. § 19:15-8). The members of the district boards and any duly authorized challenger, respectively, shall at any election challenge every person who shall claim to have a right to vote therein whom they or he shall know, suspect or believe not to be qualified or entitled to so vote, and said members of the district board or challenger shall have the power and right to ask all questions which are suitable and necessary to determine such person's right. (N.J. Stat. Ann. § 19:15-18. Also see 19:15-18.1, 18.2)
New Mexico The county chair of each political party represented on the ballot may appoint in writing challengers for each polling location. (N.M. Stat. Ann. § 1-2-21). An election-related organization may appoint watchers in a county if the organization provides a written notice to the secretary of state at least ten days prior to the election date and specifies the names of the qualified appointees. Any group of three candidates for elected office may appoint watchers in a county. The secretary of state shall notify the county clerk of the qualified appointees at least five days before the election. (N.M. Stat. Ann. § 1-2-27). Challengers and watchers shall be voters of a precinct located in that county to which they are appointed. (N.M. Stat. Ann. § 1-2-22). A challenge may be interposed by a member of the precinct board or by a party challenger (N.M. Stat. Ann. § 1-2-20).
New York At any general, special, town or village election, any party committee or independent body whose candidates are upon the ballot, and at any primary election, any two or more candidates and any political committee may have for each election district three watchers at any one time, not more than one of whom may be within the guard rail at any one time. Watchers shall be appointed by the chairman of any such party, committee or independent body or by the candidates. Each watcher must be a qualified voter of the city or county in which he is to serve No person shall be appointed or act as a watcher who is a candidate for any public office to be voted for by the voters of the election district in the same election in which the watcher is to serve. (N.Y. Election Law § 8-500). Before his vote is cast, any person may be challenged by any registered voter properly in the polling place, watcher, or clerk or inspector of election. An inspector shall challenge every person offering to vote, who he shall know or suspect is not entitled to vote in the district, and every person whose name appears on the list of persons to be challenged on Election Day which is furnished by the board of elections. (N.Y. Election Law § 8-502)
North Carolina The chair of each political party in the county shall have the right to designate two observers to attend each voting place at each primary and election and such observers may, at the option of the designating party chair, be relieved during the day of the primary or election after serving no less than four hours and provided the list required by this section to be filed by each chair contains the names of all persons authorized to represent such chair's political party. Not more than two observers from the same political party shall be permitted in the voting enclosure at any time. Persons appointed as observers must be registered voters of the county for which appointed and must have good moral character. (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 163‑45). During the time allowed for voting in the voting place, only the following persons may enter the voting enclosure: an election official; an observer; a runner but only to the extent necessary to announce that runner's presence and to receive the voter list; a person seeking to vote in that voting place on that day but only while in the process of voting or seeking to vote; a voter in that precinct while entering or explaining a challenge; a person authorized to assist a voter but, except as provided in subdivision (6) of this section, only while assisting that voter; ,minor children of the voter under the age of 18, or minor children under the age of 18 in the care of the voter, but only while accompanying the voter and while under the control of the voter; persons conducting or participating in a simulated election within the voting place or voting enclosure, if that simulated election is approved by the county board of elections; any other person determined by election officials to have an urgent need to enter the voting enclosure but only to the extent necessary to address that need. (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 163‑166.3) On the day of a primary or election, at the time a registered voter offers to vote, any other registered voter of the precinct may exercise the right of challenge, and when he does so may enter the voting enclosure to make the challenge, but he shall retire therefrom as soon as the challenge is heard. (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 163‑87).
North Dakota Three poll challengers appointed by the district chairman of each political party represented on the election board are entitled to be in attendance at each polling place. (N.D. Cent. Code § 16.1-05-06) Election observers must be allowed uniform and nondiscriminatory access to all stages of the election process (N.D. Cent. Code § 16.1-05- 09). An election observer is a nonpartisan individual wishing to monitor the administration of the election. The law permits these people to observe but not interfere with those marking their ballot or with officials performing their duties. Election observers are selected by the organizations they represent. Election observers must wear a name badge indicating their identity and affiliation, however there are no residency restrictions for these individuals. North Dakota Secretary of State, Election Observers). Any member of the election board may challenge the right of an individual to vote if the election board member has knowledge or has reason to believe the individual is not a qualified elector. A poll challenger may request members of the election board to challenge the right of an individual to vote if the poll challenger has knowledge or has reason to believe the individual is not a qualified elector of the precinct. (N.D. Cent. Code § 16.1-05-06)
Ohio At any primary, special, or general election, any political party supporting candidates to be voted upon at such election and any group of five or more candidates may appoint to the board of elections or to any of the precincts in the county or city one person, a qualified elector, who shall serve as observer for such party or such candidates during the casting of the ballots and during the counting of the ballots; provided that separate observers may be appointed to serve during the casting and during the counting of the ballots. (Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 3505.21). Any person offering to vote may be challenged at the polling place by any precinct election official. (Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 3505. 20).
Oklahoma Any candidate or any recognized political party shall be entitled to have a watcher present at any place where an official count is being conducted. (Oklahoma Statutes 26-7-130) N/A
Oregon N/A N/A
Pennsylvania Each candidate for nomination or election at any election shall be entitled to appoint two watchers for each election district in which such candidate is voted for. Each political party and each political body which has nominated candidates in accordance with the provisions of this act, shall be entitled to appoint three watchers at any general, municipal or special election for each election district in which the candidates of such party or political body are to be voted for. Such watchers shall serve without expense to the county. Each watcher so appointed must be a qualified registered elector of the county in which the election district for which the watcher was appointed is located. (Pa. Consol. Stat. Ann. § 2687) Any person, although personally registered as an elector, may be challenged by any qualified elector, election officer, overseer, or watcher at any primary or election as to his identity, as to his continued residence in the election district or as to any alleged violation of the provisions of section 1210. (Pa. Consol. Stat. Ann. § 3050).
Rhode Island The officers required to furnish and equip any voting place shall also provide a table in the room where the voting is conducted, outside the enclosed space near the first bipartisan pair of supervisors, at which a representative of each recognized political party bearing credentials signed by the proper ward or town committee chairperson, shall be allowed to sit for the purpose of keeping track of those who are voting, and these representatives, who shall be known as "checkers," may be changed during the day. A representative, known as a "runner," of each of the parties shall be allowed to come to the table at frequent intervals for the purpose of taking whatever list or memoranda the checkers may wish to give the runner. A representative of each recognized political party bearing credentials signed by the proper ward or town committee chairperson, shall also be allowed outside the enclosed place to observe the voting and assist the checkers, and these representatives shall be known as "watchers." (R.I. Gen. Laws § 17-19- 22) The watchers and any election official shall have the right to challenge the right to vote of any person offering himself or herself as a voter. (R.I. Gen. Laws § 17-19-22)
South Carolina Each candidate who is not unopposed in a primary and each nonpartisan candidate, including announced write-in candidates in a general or special election, may appoint a watcher for any voting place where his name appears on the ballot. However, in any general or special election, all candidates who are certified by a political party must be jointly represented at each polling place by not more than two watchers from the party for each one thousand registered voters or fraction thereof registered at the polling place. Each watcher appointed hereunder must be a qualified voter in the county where he is to watch. (S.C. Code Ann. § 7-13-860) It is the duty of the managers of election to, and any elector or qualified watcher may, challenge the vote of a person who may be known or suspected not to be a qualified voter. However, the challenges by persons other than a manager must be addressed to the manager and not directly to the voter. (S.C. Code Ann. § 7- 13-810)
South Dakota At least one poll watcher for each political party, one poll watcher for each independent candidate, one poll watcher for each slate of presidential electors, and one poll watcher for each side of any ballot issue to be voted on may be present at each polling place for general elections. (Administrative Rule 5:02:12:02) Any person, except a candidate who is on the ballot being voted on at that polling place, may be present at any polling place for the purpose of observing the voting process. (S.D. Codified Laws § 12-18-9) The person's right to vote at that poll and election may be challenged only as to the person's identity as the person registered whom the person claims to be or on grounds that within fifteen days preceding the election the person has been convicted of a felony or declared by proper authority to be mentally incompetent. (S.D. Codified Laws § 12-18-10)
Tennessee Each political party and any organization of citizens interested in a question on the ballot or interested in preserving the purity of elections and in guarding against abuse of the elective franchise may appoint poll watchers. The county election commission may require organizations to produce evidence that they are entitled to appoint watchers. All appointed poll watchers must have reached the age of seventeen (17) by election day. A spouse of a candidate on the ballot shall not be eligible for appointment as a poll watcher. Each political party which has candidates in the election and each citizens' organization may have two (2) watchers at each polling place. One (1) of the watchers representing a party may be appointed by the chair of the county executive committee of the party and the other by a majority of the candidates of that party running exclusively within the county in which the watchers are appointed. (Tenn. Code. Ann. § 2-7- 104) No person may be admitted to a polling place except election officials, voters, persons properly assisting voters, the press, poll watchers appointed under § 2-7-104 and others bearing written authorization from the county election commission. (Tenn. Code. Ann. § 2-7-103). If any person's right to vote is challenged by any other person present at the polling place, the judges shall present the challenge to the person. (Tenn. Code. Ann. § 2-7-123)
Texas “Watcher" means a person appointed to observe the conduct of an election on behalf of a candidate, a political party, or the proponents or opponents of a measure. Each appointing authority may appoint no more than two watchers for each precinct polling place. To be eligible to serve as a watcher, a person must be a qualified voter. (Tex. Elections Code Ann. § 33.001; 33.007). N/A
Utah Any individual may become a watcher in an election at any time by registering as a watcher with the administering election officer. A person that is a candidate whose name will appear on the ballot, a qualified write-in candidate for the election, a registered political party, or a political issues committee may certify an individual as an official watcher for the person. (Utah Code Ann. § 20A-3-201). A poll worker, a watcher, or an individual who lives in the voting precinct may challenge an individual’s eligibility to vote in that voting precinct or in that election. (Utah Code Ann. § 20A-3- 202.5).
Vermont Each organized political party, each candidate on the ballot not representing an organized political party, and each committee supporting or opposing any public question on the ballot shall have the right to have not more than two representatives outside the guardrail for the purpose of observing the voting process and challenging the right of any person to vote. (Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 17, § 2564) In all cases the representatives shall have the right to hear or see the name of a person seeking to vote, and they shall have the right to make an immediate challenge to a person's right to vote. (Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 17, § 2564)
Virginia The officers of election shall permit one authorized representative of each political party or independent candidate in a general or special election, or one authorized representative of each candidate in a primary election, to remain in the room in which the election is being conducted at all times. The officers of election shall have discretion to permit up to three authorized representatives of each political party or independent candidate in a general or special election, or up to three authorized representatives of each candidate in a primary election, to remain in the room in which the election is being conducted. Each authorized representative shall be a qualified voter of any jurisdiction of the Commonwealth. (Va. Code Ann. § 24.2-604) A local electoral board or general registrar may authorize in writing the presence of additional neutral observers as may be deemed appropriate subject to restrictions. (Va. Code Ann. § 24.2-604) Any qualified voter may, and the officers of election shall, challenge the vote of any person who is listed on the pollbook but is known or suspected not to be a qualified voter. (Va. Code Ann. § 24.2-651)
Washington Anyone has the right to observe any part of the election process. Major political parties also have a responsibility to provide observers to monitor the election process. County auditors must request that observers be appointed by the major political parties to be present during the processing of ballots at the counting center. County auditors have discretion to also request that observers be appointed by any campaigns or organizations. The absence of the observers will not prevent the processing of ballots if the county auditor has requested their presence. (See An Observer’s Guide to Washington State Elections; RCW 29A.40.100) N/A
West Virginia N/A It is the duty of the members of the receiving board, jointly or severally, to challenge the right of any person requesting a ballot to vote in any election in certain circumstances. (W. Va. Code § 3- 1-41)
Wisconsin Any member of the public may be present at any polling place for the purpose of observation of an election except a candidate whose name appears on the ballot at the polling place or on an absentee ballot to be cast at the clerk's office or alternate site at that election. The chief inspector or municipal clerk may reasonably limit the number of persons representing the same organization who are permitted to observe at the same time. Each person permitted to observe under shall print his or her name in and sign and date a log maintained by the chief inspector or municipal clerk for that polling place, office, or alternate site. The chief inspector or municipal clerk shall clearly designate observation areas for election observers. The observation areas shall be so positioned to permit any election observer to readily observe all public aspects of the voting process. (see Wis. Stat. § 7.41). Each inspector shall challenge for cause any person offering to vote whom the inspector knows or suspects is not a qualified elector or who does not adhere to any voting requirement under this chapter. Any elector may challenge for cause any person offering to vote whom the elector knows or suspects is not a qualified elector. (Wis. Stat. § 6.92, 6.925).
Wyoming The county chairman of each political party may certify poll watchers prior to the day of the election to serve in each precinct. Not more than one (1) poll watcher from each political party may serve simultaneously unless the chief judge determines that one (1) additional poll watcher from each political party may be accommodated in the polling premises without disrupting the polling process. A poll watcher shall belong to the political party he represents and shall be a registered elector residing in the county. (Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 22-15-109) It is the duty of the judges to challenge electors whenever existence of legal grounds for doing so is known or apparent to the judges. (Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 22-15-108)