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Election Judges and Poll Watchers

Poll watchers are individuals that a campaign can send to observe election activity. Poll watchers allow a candidate to have independent observers to check for voting irregularities and make sure election laws are followed. You need experienced and trained poll watchers to safeguard your race and so you can respond to problems in real-time when voting starts.

A good poll watcher knows how to spot abnormal voting procedures, and knows what to do when they find a problem. If you’ve ever worked on a campaign, you know how chaotic it can be when voting starts. Issues arise at polling places that require an immediate response. Our team of experienced election lawyers can help your campaign use poll watchers effectively.

Where Can Poll Watchers Go?

Poll watchers have the right to be anywhere election activity is being conducted. You want poll watchers in any central count room, ballot board room, signature check room, or any polling location. Poll watchers also have the right to be present at drop-off sites and to follow ballots as they are transported. Poll watchers may not disrupt voting in any way and cannot talk to the voters. Poll watchers who interfere with voting may be removed from the polling location.

Is Your Campaign Prepared? Ask Yourself the Following Questions About Poll Watchers

How many poll watchers should I have? Where should I send them? How many can I send to each location? Do I know all the rules regarding polling places? Is there a manual? What do my poll watchers do when they encounter a problem?

If you can not answer those questions, that’s ok, because we can. At Guest and Gray, we know you didn’t enter politics to become an expert on poll watchers or election law. That’s why you need to hire our experienced election legal team.. Our election lawyers have represented successful campaigns at every level -city, county, statewide and federal. We will make sure your team of poll watchers is ready. We will train your poll watchers and teach them what to do if they encounter a problem. We will advise your poll watchers before and during the election. We offer complaint support, so poll watches know how to respond.

What are Your Choices When an Election Judge is Causing Problems for Your Campaign?

There are ways to complain about the behavior of an election judge. You can submit a complaint to the judge’s political party, or to the Secretary of State. If the Secretary of State decides your complaint has merit, it will be sent to the Attorney General’s Office Elections Division for a possible investigation. If you want your complaint to be taken seriously, it has to be formatted correctly and be written in a “just the facts” style. Problem- it will be months or even years before you get a response. So none of these measures can protect your campaign during the election.

What other options do you have? It is possible that you could convince the Chair of the Party who appointed the judge to agree to voluntarily withdraw that person as a judge, but that almost never happens. It’s also possible that you could obtain removal of the judge by the county’s Commissioner’s Court, but that usually requires navigating complex political situations and again, rarely ever happens. Election judges have the authority of District Court Judges. That means that if you want to overrule them immediately, you’d have to file a Writ of Mandamus with an Appellate Court. The law requires that you first serve a demand letter on the judge with specific information included in it. You have very little time to respond and if you wait too long you may be denied any legal remedy. So don’t wait until voting starts and a problem arises. If you want to be protected from rogue election judges you need a legal team on your side. Smart campaigns hire our firm early to advise them before voting starts. We will put a system in place to protect your campaign from the day you announce until the election is over. Our lawyers can help you respond in real-time to any election judge issues you face. Don’t wait until it’s too late to hire a campaign lawyer.

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