POLLWATCHER: ANOTHER IMPORTANT WAY TO BE INVOLVED
By Chris Hotchkin
March 20, 2018 will be the primary election in Illinois and November 6, 2018 will be the general election. An important job on each of these election days is to be a pollwatcher. Precinct committeemen often serve as pollwatchers, but any volunteer who wants to help ensure a fair election for Democrats can serve as a pollwatcher. We may also have pollwatchers during Early Voting.
A pollwatcher spends at least part of the election day in the polling place. A pollwatcher, who will have been provided credentials by the party or a candidate, may enter the polls before they open, and may remain in the polling place after the polls are closed. Before the polls open, a pollwatcher may watch the judges prepare the election materials and machines, including running a “zero tape” which shows there are no votes recorded on the machine before the polls open. Throughout the election day a pollwatcher may place himself or herself in a position to watch voters sign in, watch voters receive their ballot and instructions from the judges, and watch voters place their paper ballot into the scantron machine. A pollwatcher may watch the process of registering voters at the polling place. After the polls close, a pollwatcher may watch the judges tabulate votes on the machines, watch the judges handle the paper ballots, and watch the judges pack election materials to be returned to the election commission. A pollwatcher may not touch any election materials or interfere in any way with the voting process.
Since we have election judges, why do we need pollwatchers? A pollwatcher represents the party and/or specific Democratic candidates. If there is a problem with voting machines, or questionable action by election judges, or if there is illegal electioneering going on in the polling place, the pollwatcher can notify our local township chair or a local attorney assigned by our local Democratic Party to be available on election day. Some pollwatchers keep track of which voters have come in to vote, so that a Democratic precinct committeeman or campaign representative can contact Democratic voters who have not voted to remind them to get out and vote.
An election day is a long day—6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. It is okay for pollwatchers to take shifts watching a polling place. Because several precincts vote in the same polling place, it sometimes happens that more than one Democratic precinct committeeman serves that polling place. These PC’s can work out a schedule of shifts to work the polls, perhaps enlisting other volunteers as well.
If you are interested in serving as a pollwatcher or want to learn more about being a pollwatcher, please contact Maryann Vasquez at firstname.lastname@example.org, or our Township Chair Kim Savage. We will definitely conduct pollwatcher training prior to each election day. In addition, the DuPage County Election Commission has a Pollwatcher Guide on their website: www.dupageco.org/Election. Click on the Elections tab and then click on Pollwatchers.