For more than a decade Verified Voting has supported and encouraged respectful public observation of the election process consistent with a state or jurisdiction’s regulations governing observers, and promoted transparency as a key element of reliable, evidence-based elections. Election observers should be free from harassment and intimidation. Observation enables parties, candidates, citizen groups and independent organizations to deploy observers to witness the electoral process without interfering with it.

Election observation offers many benefits. The presence of election observers can “build public trust in a transparent and verifiably democratic process.” Credible election observers can help ensure that procedures are correctly followed, can alert busy election officials when issues arise, and can offer recommendations that make each election better than the last one. States and localities should welcome information gathered by observers. Verified Voting has partnered with the Election Protection Coalition for many years who have also advocated for this kind of nonpartisan observation.

Unfortunately, state rules and practices governing who can observe–including what and when they can observe–vary widely. Verified Voting encourages jurisdictions to implement best practices for election observation that support free, transparent elections nationwide. Poll workers should receive robust training regarding the rights and restrictions of observers in the polling place.

Citizens and activists who are considering observing elections in their own communities can learn more about guidelines here and should contact their local board of elections for local policies, timing and more information.