Ahead of Midterms, Report Details New State-By-State Rules for Poll Observing, Outlines Potential Consequences for Upcoming Election

New Report Breaks Down Poll Observer Roles and Rules, Reflects Changes by State Legislatures in the Wake of the 2020 Election

Published: 7.25.22

Washington, D.C. — Ahead of the midterm elections, the States United Democracy Center today released a new report outlining the essential role poll observers play in American elections. With both national context and state-specific information, Midterms 2022: The Poll Observer Landscape explains poll observers’ role in election transparency, illustrates changes to the legal and political landscape around the roles of both poll watchers and election challengers since the 2020 election, and offers guidance for states and local officials to ensure the 2022 midterms remain safe, secure, and accurate. 

“Poll observers are an essential component of our elections,” said Katie Reisner, Senior Counsel at the States United Democracy Center. “But since 2020, we’ve seen poll observers politicized and, in some cases, used as a tool to intentionally sow disruption. This report is intended to provide clarity about the rules of road and to reaffirm the appropriate and positive way election observers should be involved in the process.”  

Poll observers — members of the public permitted to monitor conduct at polling places — are a feature of elections in nearly every state. However, the rules and regulations that govern poll observers are widely varied across states. The Midterms 2022: The Poll Observer Landscape report provides background, policy recommendations, and substantive summaries of the rules governing observers in12 states that saw both record turnout and significant attempts to undermine the electoral process in 2020. The state-by-state breakdowns — for Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin — offer clarity helpful to everyone involved in election administration.  

“It’s critically important that voters, poll observers, and those who administer elections are aware of the rights and responsibilities of poll watchers and election challengers,” said Robert Cotter, Counsel at the States United Democracy Center. “We hope that both poll observers and those running polling places will use this resource to promote shared expectations, and ultimately help to ensure a smooth election in November.” 

To view a PDF of the report, click here. 

To view the individual state backgrounders, click here. 


About the States United Democracy Center 

The States United Democracy Center is a nonpartisan organization advancing free, fair, and secure elections. We focus on connecting state officials, law enforcement leaders, and pro-democracy partners across America with the tools and expertise they need to safeguard our democracy. For more information, visit www.statesuniteddemocracy.org.