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Protect Our Vote – Be a Poll Watcher

Casting a ballot is your most fundamental right as an American. Everyone in the process, from voters and poll workers to candidates and their supporters, must work to ensure that voting runs smoothly. New machines, clerical errors, weary voters exhausted by long lines and uncertainty in crowded polling places—and sometimes over-zealous candidates and campaign volunteers—can serve to discourage and even turn away voters on Election Day.

The Horry County Democratic Party is devoted to ensuring our voters can cast their votes in an efficient and non-threatening environment.

Inside the polling place, properly trained Poll Watchers can help maintain a balanced and objective tone to the proceedings and help identify any issues before they escalate. Ultimately, the goal is to see that all eligible voters vote.

On Election Day, Poll Watchers may be assigned to one polling place or to rove among several locations. Volunteers may serve for all or part of the day. With at least 125 precincts in Horry County, HCDP needs an army of volunteers to help protect the vote on Election Day, so sign up today by calling our office and getting on the list! Because of the new machines, all experienced poll watchers will have additional training.

The following are some facts about Poll Watching and a schedule of trainings in the next few days.

What makes a Qualified Poll Watcher?

A Poll Watcher is a volunteer credentialed by a political party or, depending on the type of election, a specific candidate and assigned to a specific polling place(s) for the whole or partial Election Day. A Democratic Poll Watcher must be a registered voter in the county where they are assigned, and must be approved by the County Chair of the Democratic Party based on personal knowledge and/or training. [Note: a Poll Worker is paid by the Horry County Voters Registration & Elections to work for the entire Election Day. Training is required prior to each election. For information, call (843)488-HCDP(4237).

What is a Poll Watcher Authorized to Perform?

By listening to and observing the voting procedures employed within a polling place on Election Day, a qualified Poll Watcher can help to ensure that voters cast their votes without interference or intimidation.

By law (S.C. Code 7-13-860), Poll Watchers are authorized to observe the conduct of elections at a distance close enough to hear conversations between voters and Poll Managers and to observe the registration and sign-in books. In addition, Poll Watchers are authorized to observe the processing of any all types of paper ballots used in the election; the opening and closing of the machines; to inspect and record the final count of votes as announced; and the sealing of ballot containers after the Polls have closed.

Poll watchers are actively supported by the Voter Protection Committee and HCDP leadership during their service. Although poll watchers are not allowed to speak to the voters within the polling place, assistance such as arranging for a ride if they are directed to an alternate polling place is a great help to voters. The training provides other positive interventions. When the polling location is closed, Poll Watchers are authorized to inspect the public count of voters for all offices and record the final count of votes. Poll watching is a concrete manner that helps voters, candidates and our Party.

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