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Challengers and Watchers Instructions and Information
Challengers and Watchers Instructions and Information

Maryland law permits properly designated individuals to serve as Challengers and/or Watchers on Election Day.  Accredited Challengers and/or Watchers are election observers who have access to polling places to observe all Election Day activities.

Challengers and/or Watchers represent candidates, recognized political parties, or proponents and opponents of ballot issues.  To be an accredited Challenger and/or Watcher, an individual must have a certificate completed by one of the following persons or entities:

  • The State Board of Supervisors of Elections
  • Local Board of Elections (County or city Clerk’s Office)
  • A candidate (including filed Write-In candidates)
  • Any other group of voters supporting or opposing a candidate, principle, or proposition on the ballot

A Challenger and/or Watcher has the right to:

  • Be in the polling room at least 1/2 hour before the polls open.
  • Be in the polling room at any time when the polls are open.
  • Be in the polling room during the completion of all tasks associated with closing the polls; provided they are present prior to the closing of the polls.
  • Maintain a list of registered voters who have voted and take the list outside of the polling place.
  • Be near the Check-In Judges to see and hear each voter as the voter checks in to vote (may be seated behind, but not at, the Check-In table).
  • Note:  The Chief Judge is NOT required to place a Challenger or Watcher where they can view the screen of the electronic pollbooks.  As long as the Challenger/Watcher can hear the voters during the check in process, this is acceptable.
  • Challenge a voter’s identity.

Periodically throughout the day, may request:

  • The Chief Judge to accompany him or her to voting units not currently being used by voters to verify the tamper tape and public counter; and
  • One of the Check-In Judges to allow him or her to see the number of voters who have been checked in to vote (located at the bottom, center of the look-up screen).
  • Note:  Chief Judges have the discretion to determine if the polling place is too busy at the time of a request and then comply with the request during non-peak voting times.

A Challenger and/or Watcher cannot attempt to:

  • Find out how a voter voted or intends to vote.
  • Talk with any voter in the polling room.
  • Move about the polling place during voting hours.
  • Assist any voter in voting.
  • Interfere with the election process or impede a voter’s access to an Election Judge.
  • Physically handle an original election document.
  • Use a cell phone, laptop, pager, or other electronic equipment in the polling place.