WHAT IS A POLL WATCHER?
A candidate, political party or political committee may ask someone to go to a polling place or early voting area and observe. This person is known as a poll watcher. The poll watcher observes the election process to see if any violation of the election laws occurs. If a violation occurs, the poll watcher is to refer the violation to the clerk of the precinct.
WHAT QUALIFICATIONS ARE NEEDED TO BECOME A POLL WATCHER?
Each poll watcher shall be a qualified and registered voter of Franklin County. Each candidate, political party and political committee shall designate, in writing, prior to noon of the second Tuesday preceding the election poll watchers for each polling room. Designations of poll watchers for early voting areas shall be submitted in writing to the Supervisor of Elections at least 14 days before early voting begins.
WHERE DOES THE POLL WATCHER GET AUTHORITY AND APPROVAL?
The poll watcher gets his or her authority from F.S. 101.131. Upon receiving written notification, (Poll Watcher Designation Form DS-DE 125), the Supervisor of Elections shall approve or disapprove the applicant for Early Voting, no later than 7 days before early voting begins. Poll watchers for Election Day polling rooms shall be approved or disapproved on or before the Tuesday before the election. The Supervisor shall furnish to each precinct a list of poll watchers designated and approved for the early voting areas or polling rooms.
WHO CANNOT BE A POLL WATCHER?
A candidate, sheriff, deputy sheriff, police officer, or any law enforcement officer is not allowed to serve as a poll watcher.
HOW MANY POLL WATCHERS ARE ALLOWED IN A POLLING PLACE?
Each political party and each candidate on the ballot are permitted to have ONE poll watcher per polling location at any one time. Should a candidate select several watchers to “take shifts”, the poll watcher in the polling location must exit the polling location before the next poll watcher may enter.
WHAT CAN'T THE POLL WATCHER DO?
The poll watcher should not interfere with or impede the conduct of any election. He/she should come no closer to the official's table or the voting booths than is reasonably necessary. Unless there is an observation of a questionable nature, the poll watcher is not permitted to speak to the voter or the inspector. All questions must be directed to the clerk of the precinct.
DOES THE POLL WATCHER NEED ANYTHING?
The poll watcher is responsible for supplying any necessary items or materials he or she will need at the polling place that day. The Supervisor of Elections shall provide each designated poll watcher, an identification badge which identifies the poll watcher by name. Each poll watcher must wear the badge while performing his or her duties.
WHAT ARE THE PRIVILEGES OF BEING A POLL WATCHER?
The main function of a poll watcher is to observe the occurrences at the polling room.
1. The poll watcher may execute his/her right to see that the ballot box is empty, if done before the casting of the first ballot.
2. A poll watcher may observe from a reasonable distance, the distribution of the ballot to the voter, and the depositing of the ballot into the tabulating equipment.
3. Upon the observance of what the poll watcher considers a violation, the poll watcher may challenge a voter's right to vote by stating his/her case to the precinct clerk. The challenge shall be reduced to writing with an Oath of a Person Entering Challenge F.S. 101.111
After the casting of all ballots, the poll watcher may observe the closing procedures at the polls.
POLL WATCHERS ARE ALLOWED:
• To ask questions of the Precinct Clerk only.
• To have their cell phones with them but they must be placed on silent mode and any calls should be made or taken outside the polling location.
It is of paramount importance that the Precinct Clerk maintain order within the polling location. If a Poll Watcher becomes unruly, disruptive, or disrespectful to the poll workers or voters, the Clerk has the authority to control the situation and ask the individual to leave the voting area, if necessary, be removed from the polling location.
While I respect the rule of law and acknowledge the public has a lawful right to observe the election process, I also hold expectations that our voters should have the ability to vote without interruption and in private. Please be respectful of our voters and our poll workers and provide each with the same level of courtesy that you would like shown to you.