Poll watchers are not allowed to interfere with the election in any way. They are prohibited from speaking to voters, checking electors’ lists and using cameras or recording devices, including cellphones. Poll watchers who violate any of these conditions can be asked to leave by the polling place manager. Any voter can report a poll watcher’s inappropriate behavior to an election worker if necessary.
If poll watchers notice any irregularities or want to challenge a voter’s eligibility, they must bring the issue to the election superintendent, the top election official in the county. They cannot challenge the voter directly. The superintendent will decide how to proceed based on the poll watcher’s concerns.
Both the Democratic and Republican parties of Georgia allow volunteers to sign up to be poll watchers on their websites.
For those unable to register as poll watchers or who are not selected for the role by their political party, both parties have many other volunteer opportunities. All voters have the right to report any suspicious activity or concerns to the election officials at their polling place. However, if a voter is actively campaigning on behalf of a candidate or appears to be intimidating other voters, he or she would be in violation of federal law. If the illegal behavior continues, poll workers could have the voter removed from the polling place by law enforcement.
This will be the first national election in nearly 40 years in which the Republican National Committee may appoint poll watchers without added restrictions. The GOP signed a consent decree in 1982 that promised it would not make efforts to suppress voters after Democrats sued over tactics used during a New Jersey gubernatorial election. Prior to this year’s election, Republican poll watchers were largely appointed locally by candidates themselves.