Poll watchers in the 2020 general election: What to expect in Madison County

Poll watchers in Madison County

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - In recent weeks, President Trump has asked supporters to keep a close eye on what’s happening at polling places.

But, experts say, here in Alabama the rules about who can do that are very specific.

According to Madison County Probate Judge Frank Barger, in a general election, each recognized political party is allowed to have one poll watcher inside a polling location at any given time.

These poll watchers are appointed by their respective political parties.

Barger says all poll watchers must check-in with the inspector at the polling location. They also must provide documentation that proves they have been appointed.

Barger says elections workers are trained to ensure poll watchers are given the opportunity to ask questions and understand the process.

In addition, he notes there is rarely ever an issue with poll watchers in Madison County.

Ultimately, Barger says poll watchers are an integral part of elections. Their primary job is to ensure the process is transparent.

“They are to observe and ask questions and represent their political party," Barger said. "Now keep in mind they have to be plain-clothed, they can’t interact with voters, they can’t campaign. They are there to watch and observe and to ensure that things are managed properly. If those poll watchers have any concerns they can be addressed through their political party to my office. But again, with rare exception, we have never had any issues with poll watchers.”

Barger also notes that access to polling locations is limited to voters, election officials and law enforcement. Everyone else must maintain a distance of 30 or 40 feet from the entrance of a location.

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