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Pollwatchers are official observers of an election. Election judges are the sole authority in the polling place on Election Day.
A pollwatcher must be registered to vote in the State of Illinois and must be affiliated with the party or organization he/she is representing.
- Pollwatchers may be in the polling place before the polls open, during the actual voting hours, and after the polls close. They may also observe the counting procedures.
- Pollwatchers may request to inspect the ballot box prior to the casting of the first ballot to ensure it is empty.
- Pollwatchers may observe as the Elections Judges compare the applicant's signature.
- Pollwatchers may watch the Election Judges initial and distribute paper ballots also as the ballots are deposited into the ballot box.
- Pollwatchers may challenge a person's right to vote. They must state their reason for such challenge. The Judges then will determine whether or not to sustain the challenge.
- If a pollwatcher questions a voter's identity, he may request to view the applicant's signature and compare it to the official record signature.
- Pollwatchers are not allowed to touch any of the election supplies.
- If overcrowding interferes with the orderly conduct of the election, the Judges of Election may limit the number of pollwatchers.
- The Election Judges may cause the removal of any pollwatcher who is disrupting the election process.
- If a pollwatcher should observe an administrative error or sees an apparent violation on the part of the Election Judges or voter, the pollwatcher should politely inform the Election Judges. If the error or violation continues, the pollwatcher should record his/her observations, immediately contact the County Clerk's office, and remain at the polling place until proper authorities arrive. Under no circumstances should a pollwatcher argue with the Election Judges or interfere with the election process.
Number of pollwatchers in a polling place
The number of pollwatchers allowed in the polling place at any one time is limited by law. A candidate may always appoint two pollwatchers per precinct, while all other organizations may only appoint one pollwatcher per precinct. The only exception to this is that established political parties may appoint two pollwatchers per precinct at each Primary, General, and Consolidated General Election. For a Primary Election, pollwatchers must be registered to vote in Illinois. If over-crowding interferes with the orderly conduct of the election, Election Judges may limit the number of pollwatchers. The election judges may cause the removal of any pollwatcher who is disrupting the election process.
- Pollwatchers are observers. They are not permitted to touch any election voting apparatus, supplies, materials, or staff.
- Pollwatchers may not disrupt or interfere with the election process. If there is an issue, they should document their grievance and contact the election authority.
- Pollwatchers may not interfere with a voter's privacy.
For full details, read Pollwatcher statues from the Illinois General Assembly.