President Trump is trying to recruit an “army” of poll watchers for Election Day. As part of his ongoing disinformation campaign about election fraud, these aggressive appeals to his supporters are raising worries about voter intimidation—or worse.
Meanwhile, Facebook just announced new rules that will no longer allow “militarized” language for poll watching on its platform. When asked about a video of Donald Trump Jr. calling for an “election security operation,” Facebook’s vice president of content policy, Monika Bickert, told reporters that “under the new policy if that video were to be posted again, we would indeed remove it.” (The original video is still online.)
But poll watching is a legitimate activity used by both parties and outside groups to monitor the vote. And every state has specific rules about what poll watchers can and cannot do.
What is a poll watcher?
A poll watcher’s job is to make sure every candidate has a fair chance of winning an election. In most states they are appointed, authorized, and trained, and must follow very specific rules. Typically they watch for any irregularities or violations of local election codes. If they spot an issue, they aren’t allowed to intervene directly with voters but must work with election officials.
Donald Trump Jr.’s video would be removed from Facebook under new rules.
What is Trump asking poll watchers to do?
Trump is arguing that Democrats are trying to steal the election with fraudulent votes, allegations that are not supported by any credible evidence. Amid the interruptions and insults of the first presidential debate last week, he talked repeatedly about intervention at polling places: “I’m urging my supporters to go into the polls and watch very carefully, because that’s what has to happen,” he said.
According to the instruction videos the Trump campaign has been distributing, they hope to challenge voter and ballot eligibility in some cases. Even that means, however, that Republican poll watchers should never be talking directly to the voters. In those cases, voters should be allowed a “provisional” ballot that will be counted once their status is verified. The same rules apply to Democratic watchers.
How can this go wrong?
“There are two ways in which the actions of these groups can be effective,” Charles
By: Bobbie Johnson
Title: Explainer: What “poll watching” really means
Sourced From: www.technologyreview.com/2020/10/08/1009960/explainer-poll-watching-us-election-2020/
Published Date: Thu, 08 Oct 2020 20:08:28 +0000
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