According to CNN, a poll watcher is someone chosen to be in the room, while ballots are cast, to observe the process.
“Watchers act as a checkpoint for election officials and can be a very valuable ally to raise public trust in the process,” said Heider Garcia, Tarrant County elections administrator. “They are the third party that watches over our shoulders to make sure we follow the right procedures that protect the election.”
The goal is for them to display some sort of authority in the room to reassure voters that their vote is legitimate and will not be fixed.
“The watcher operates under the same principal as a Subject Matter Expert and can shape the level of confidence of the appointing party in the process,” said Garcia.
Poll watchers are chosen differently based on the state, but most have to be approved nearly two weeks before Election Day.
According to the Texas Secretary of State, a poll watcher must:
- Be registered to vote
- Not be a candidate for public office
- Not have held an elective public office
- Not be an employee of an election judge or clerk serving in the same polling place
- Not have been convicted of an offense in connection to elections
- Not related within the second degree of consanguinity or affinity
In order to become a poll watcher, specific educational steps must be taken.
According to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, they need to be knowledgeable and helpful to voters on Election Day.
Officials should begin education activities early, establish contact with their stakeholders, have documents on Election Day details, have tips to help poll watchers and provide poll watchers with information on what to do after the election.
There have not been any poll watchers appointed in Tarrant County for the midterm election thus far.