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Related Topic: Elections

A Few State Specifics

  • Kansas requires poll watchers to be registered voters unless the poll watcher is a member of the candidate’s family, or if the poll watcher is 14-17 years old and meets all of the other requirements for being a registered voter except age.

  • Louisiana allows each candidate to appoint one poll watcher per precinct, but also allows them to appoint one “super watcher” who can serve as a poll watcher in any precinct in which the candidate’s name is on the ballot. North Carolina has a similar system in which county party chairs can appoint a set number of at-large observers who can act as poll watchers in any precinct in the county.

  • States including Georgia, North Dakota and South Carolina statutorily require poll watchers to wear a badge indicating their name and organization. Other states may do so through administrative rules.

  • Poll watcher laws also apply in states such as Oregon and Washington that primarily conduct their elections by mail. In those states observers watch the ballots get counted and processed instead of watching voters vote at the polls.

  • Tennessee enacted in 2016 a prohibition on spouses of candidates serving as poll watchers.

Related Resources

State Primary Election Types

The manner in which party primary elections are conducted varies widely from state to state. Primaries can be categorized as either closed, partially closed, partially open, open to unaffiliated voters, open or top-two.
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