Guilford Official Says Complaints About Poll Observers 'Dominated' First Days of Early Voting

Guilford Official Says Complaints About Poll Observers 'Dominated' First Days of Early Voting

4:24pm Oct 27, 2020
CHUCK BURTON/AP

Guilford County’s top elections official says he’s gotten more complaints about poll observers this year than ever before. 

Poll observers are people designated by their political party to watch what goes on at a particular polling place. 

Charlie Collicut, the director of the Guilford County Board of Elections, says complaints about Republican observers dominated the first few days of early voting. Some said they weren’t wearing masks or following social distancing rules. Others reported feeling intimidated by them.  

“Really the big one that we're working on with the parties is no talking to voters. If you have issues, you can go talk to the person in charge, the supervisor," said Collicut. "And, you can't get where you could see confidential data that's in our books or in our computers.”

Under North Carolina law, poll watchers are allowed to take notes and observe, but they’re not allowed to disrupt voters, or stand close enough to see any private information. 

Collicut says he’s gotten significantly fewer reports of violations after having conversations with party officials and reiterating the rules.

And though complaints this year have centered on the GOP, Collicut says he’s had to remind observers from both parties not to talk to voters. 

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