NewsPublic Affairs / November 2, 2020

What You Need To Know About Poll Watchers In Indiana

Article origination IPBS-RJC
Poll watchers are a very defined role in state election law.  - Lauren Chapman/IPB News

Poll watchers are a very defined role in state election law.

Lauren Chapman/IPB News

There’s been a lot more focus this election year on poll watchers – particularly after President Donald Trump urged his supporters to “go into the polls and watch very carefully.”

But in Indiana – like other states – poll watchers are a very defined role in state election law.

Marion County Election Board Deputy Director Patrick Becker said Indiana poll watchers must be appointed, typically by state or county political party leaders.

“They have to have a credential issued, you know, by that chair of the party," Becker said. "They have to wear that credential in the polling site at all times.”

READ MORE: Can I Vote By Mail? Here's What You Need To Know For Indiana's Elections

Indiana Public Broadcasting is a partner with ProPublica's Electionland, a nationwide media collaboration to track voting problems and election integrity. If you have experienced or witnessed any problems when casting your ballot, text the word "vote" to 81380 to share your experience.

Poll watchers have to be registered voters in the county. And they can’t be candidates.

And Becker said what they’re allowed to do is spelled out in state law.

“They are there merely just to observe," Becker said. "They cannot campaign or do any electioneering in the vote center.”

Poll watchers can inspect machines or ballots before the voting starts. And they can accompany those ballots at the end of the day to the counting site.

Becker said if voters at polling places are confronted by someone who isn’t a credentialed poll watcher, they should report that to poll workers.

Contact reporter Brandon at or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

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