Why It’s Newsworthy: Poll Watchers have been a hot topic this election season, and it is beneficial to have information about who they are and what they can and cannot do. 

 

Poll watchers have been a frequent topic of the 2020 Election, but they aren’t new. They’ve been around since the 18th century. According to the Georgia Candidate Training Guide, poll watchers are legal, silent observers who closely watch the “conduct of the election, and the counting and the recording of votes.”

Poll watchers in Georgia must be certified by the Secretary of State. They must follow specific rules (page 9) so that they don’t interfere with the conduct of the election. In a report about voter intimidation, experts at the Brennan Center for Justice have said that the President’s public outcries for Trump poll watchers could lead to “instigated voter intimidation,” especially in southern states. 

The American Civil Liberties Union says that voter intimidation can take many forms, including harassment, spreading misinformation, blocking polling places, or questioning a person’s right to vote. The ACLU also says that voter intimidation is “rare and unlikely,” but if you do encounter or witness voter intimidation, you can call a voter hotline for help.

Alexis Brock is a senior majoring in journalism in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia.

 

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