A poll watcher is a person appointed to observe the conduct of an election on behalf of a candidate, a political party or the proponents or opponents of a measure (specific-purpose political action committees).
A poll watcher’s role in an election is established by Chapter 33 of the Texas Election Code.
In order to serve as a poll watcher, you must show up with a certificate of appointment that includes:
- Name, residence address, and voter registration number of the poll watcher;
- The signature of the person(s) making the appointment;
- The election and the number of the precinct where the poll watcher is to serve;
- An indication of the capacity in which the appointing authority is acting;
- In an election on a measure, an identification of the measure (if more than one is to be voted on) and a statement of which side the appointee represents;
- An affidavit to be executed by the poll watcher that the poll watcher will not have possession of any mechanical or electronic means of recording images or sound while serving as a watcher unless the poll watcher disables or deactivates the device; and
- The signature of the poll watcher.
The poll watcher should be ready to counter-sign the certificate of appointment in front of the election judge. This serves not only to certify that the person presenting themselves as a poll watcher is the person named on the appointment, but also as the execution of the affidavit that the watcher does not have possession of any prohibited recording devices.
If you are serving on election day and want to vote in a different precinct (from the location of service), we recommend voting during the early voting period, before your service as a poll watcher.
APPOINTMENT: A poll watcher may be appointed by a political party, a candidate or for elections on measures.
QUALIFICATIONS: A watcher must:
- be a registered voter of the territory (e.g., city, school district) covered by the election and of the county for November general elections, primary elections, or other countywide elections;
- not be a candidate for public office in an election held on the day the watcher seeks to serve;
- not hold an elective public office;
- not be an employee of an election judge or clerk serving at the same polling place;
- not been finally convicted of an offense in connection with conduct directly attributable to an election;
- not be related within the second degree of consanguinity of affinity (as determined by Tex. Govt. Code, Chapter 573, Subchapter B, Secs. 573.022 – 573.025) to an election judge or clerk serving at that polling place. A watcher may be related to the candidate the watcher is representing.
For more information on poll watchers please click on the following link: http://www.sos.state.tx.us/elections/forms/pollwatchers-2016.pdf.