What are Pollwatchers?

Pollwatchers, sometimes referred to as challengers, checkers, or watchers, are election observers who aid in ensuring the free and fair conduct of elections.  Pollwatchers may be in the polling place before the polls open, during the actual voting hours, after the polls close, and during early voting.

 The number of pollwatchers allowed in the polling place at any one time is limited by law. A candidate may always appoint two pollwatchers per precinct, while all other organizations may only appoint one pollwatcher per precinct.   The only exception to this is that established political parties may appoint two pollwatchers per precinct at each General and Consolidated Election.  If over-crowding interferes with the orderly conduct of the election, the judges of election may limit the number of pollwatchers.  The election judges may cause the removal of any pollwatcher who is disrupting the election process.

To be a pollwatcher you must:

  • Be registered to vote in Illinois.
  • Have valid credentials from the Moultrie County Clerk's Office or Illinois State Board of Elections.
  • Have separate credentials issued for each voting site selected to observe.
  • Pollwatchers are required to surrender their credentials at the polls and sign the Pollwatcher Register.

Rights of Pollwatcher

  • Before the first ballot is cast, pollwatchers may observe that the ballot box is empty;
  • Pollwatchers may position themselves near enough to the election judges to examine the applications for ballot; 
  • Pollwatchers may observe as the judges compare the voter applicant’s signature on the application with the signature on the registration records; 
  • Pollwatchers may watch as the judges initial and distribute the ballots to the voter and as the ballots are deposited into the ballot box after the voter has voted; 
  • Pollwatchers may challenge a person’s right to vote.  A reason for the challenge must be stated.  (Possible reasons include the person voted earlier in the day, the person moved, or the person lacks qualifications); 
  • The judges of election determine whether or not to sustain a challenge; 
  • Pollwatchers may observe the counting procedures after the polls close and at the central counting location(s) established by the election authority.

 Things to Remember

  • Pollwatchers are official observers only. They may observe the conduct of the election before, during, and after the polls close.   All pollwatchers must present valid credentials upon entering the polling place.
  • The judges of election are the sole authority in the polling place on Election Day.
  • No person, except a judge, may handle or touch election supplies and materials.
  • A law enforcement official may be in the polling place to preserve order and carry out lawful directions given by the judges.
  • Electioneering or any type of campaigning must not take place within the Campaign Free Zone (100 horizontal feet from the entrance to the room in which voting is being conducted).
  • Where ballots are counted in the office of the election authority, each political party, candidate, qualified organization of citizens, state nonpartisan civic organizations, or organized proponents or opponents of ballot propositions shall be entitled to have one pollwatcher for each panel of election judges.
  • Pollwatchers shall be permitted to observe all proceedings and view all reasonably requested records relating to the conduct of the election, provided the secrecy of the ballot is not impinged. 
  • Pollwatchers may be appointed to observe early voting by personal appearance at each permanent and temporary polling place where early voting is conducted.

 To Obtain Pollwatcher Credentials:

Pollwatcher Credentials may be obtained in the County Clerk’s Office.  Call 217.728.7389 to request Pollwatcher Credentials.

Pollwatcher Guide