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Policing the polling place.

Fraud at polling places: Some see it, many don't.

The issue of fraud has emerged in recent months, along with the suggestion that poll watchers should be on hand to observe activities on Election Day to help prevent illegal voting, fraudulent ballot counting and other election law violations. Poll watchers from political parties will be there, too, mainly to track who has not yet voted, so the campaign can get out the vote.

Who's qualified to be a poll watcher depends on the state. Poll watchers are usually required to be registered voters, but states differ on whether the observers must be registered in the county or precinct rather than just in the state. States also differ on the number of poll watchers permitted from one party or campaign, and on training requirements. Here are some highlights from NCSL's research:

* Kansas requires poll watchers to be registered voters unless the poll watcher is a member of the candidate's family, or if the poll watcher is 14 to 17 years old and meets all other requirements for being a registered voter except for age.

* Louisiana allows candidates to appoint one poll watcher per precinct, but also allows them to appoint one "super watcher" who can serve as a poll watcher in any precinct in which the candidate's name is on the ballot. North Carolina has a similar system in which county party chairs can appoint a set number of at-large observers who can act as poll watchers in any precinct in the county.

* Statutes in Georgia, North Dakota and South Carolina require poll watchers to wear a badge indicating their name and organization. Other states require such identification through administrative rules.

* Poll watcher laws also apply in Oregon and Washington, which conduct their elections primarily by mail. Observers in these states watch the county clerk process and count the ballots instead of watching voters at the polls.

* West Virginia appears to be the only state that does not allow poll watchers to observe elections.

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Title Annotation:TRENDS
Author:Underhill, Wendy; Frazzini, Kevin
Publication:State Legislatures
Date:Oct 1, 2016
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