We’re asking everyone who cares about fair elections — no matter who wins! — to prepare to observe AFTER the elections. Watch while your local election workers make sure every vote is counted accurately. The introductory training below is part of Scrutineers’ AFTER Project — Act for Trusted Election Results.
How to Become an Election Observer:
Read the materials below the video and complete the form at the bottom of this page.
That will get you access to more resources, and enable us to communicate with you about updates.
Send or take an introductory letter to the election office.
You don’t need to sign up with Scrutineers to observe. This is something you’ll do on your own or with a buddy or group.
Disclaimer: Scrutineers provides training materials for educational purposes only. You are responsible for assessing the safety of your environment and responding as needed. By continuing to use the material on this site, you agree to hold Scrutineers harmless for incidents you encounter while volunteering as an election observer.
To find what you can observe in your state, click here and scroll down to the table titled “Who Can Observe the Election Process in the U.S.”
Click here to find how to get accredited as an observer, if your state requires that. The info says it’s for “poll-watchers,” and the same procedures usually apply to observing after the polls close.
Bring a notebook and/or several copies of this printable form. (You can use our online form if you’d prefer, but this isn’t ideal because you could lose reception or be prohibited from using a phone. If you want to use the online form, be sure to have the link handy.)
It’s important to write down your observations as soon as you can, before you forget details or get distracted by the next thing that happens.
Include details that will help others understand what happened and who was involved. Here’s a “Goldilocks Guide”:
|Not enough detail||JUST RIGHT||Too much detail|
|I went on Tuesday and watched some people from the election office working on vote by mail processing. It didn’t seem like they were being very careful.||Tuesday, 11/9/22 at 3:20 PM. A 40-ish white man wearing a plaid shirt, with short dark hair and glasses, said he worked for the election office. He was sorting envelopes into three piles. He took one pile and walked away, leaving the other piles on a table with no one watching them. I told Wanda, the supervisor.||Tuesday, 11/9/22 at 3:10 PM. I don’t know the name of this guy, but he was maybe around 40, a pale white man wearing a red, blue, and green plaid shirt, with short dark hair and tortoise-shell glasses, said he worked for the election office. I saw him sorting envelopes into three piles on a large table. He picked up the tallest pile in his left hand and walked down a hallway where I couldn’t see him, leaving the other piles on a table with no one watching them. I told Wanda, the supervisor, a short Black woman wearing a tan suit.|
Sketching the layout of the room will help you remember & track who went where. You can do this on the back of the notes form. Here’s an example:
Before reporting to anyone:
In deciding what else to tell, consider the following:
- Who was involved in the error or situation?
- Must action be taken immediately to correct the mistake?
- Who do you believe has the power to act?
- Is outside intervention needed?
Options for Reporting Issues
- Staff member designated to answer observer questions. If necessary, ask to speak with a supervisor.
- Your buddy & other observers in the room
- SeeSay2022.com [not currently active]
- State election groups
- You may know some contacts. Find more at: https://ballotpedia.org/Sample_Ballot_Lookup
- Lawyers at 866-OUR-VOTE, and/or other lawyers:
- English: 866-OUR-VOTE – Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
- Spanish/English: 888-VE-Y-VOTA – NALEO Educational Fund
- Arabic/English: 844-YALLA-US – Arab American Institute (AAI)
- Asian Languages/English: 888-API-VOTE – APIAVote & Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC)
- Voter protection field programs: legal – managed by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and grassroots managed by Common Cause
- Digital outreach tools: including 866ourvote.org, @866ourVote, and facebook.com/866OurVote
- US Department of Justice (DOJ)
- Every part of the country has a US Attorney. Each one names an election lawyer who can investigate federal issues. Change ohio to your state at end of this search: https://duckduckgo.com/?q=%22district+election+officer%22+ohio
- The head office of the Justice Dept (DOJ) monitors some areas, and you can send them reasons to monitor other areas as well. 202-307-2767 or 800-253-3931
- DOJ also receives complaints about civil rights discrimination.
- Election Official Legal Defense Network
- They have lawyers who defend election staff against punitive enforcement of state laws (not against public or observers)
- Scrutineers may be able to help guide you toward appropriate action. Reach us on Twitter @ScrutineersUS or email us.
☐ Directions to the observing location
☐ Mask (safer and often required)
☐ Photo ID (if required)
☐ Phone and/or video camera (Note: Empty your storage so you have plenty of room on your device.)
☐ Extra battery/charger for your phone or other video device.
☐ A measuring tape app if you have to keep a certain distance from workers
☐ Binoculars (You may be far from the action).
☐ Water and snacks (choose something quiet and not messy or sticky)
☐ A few pens, preferably not blue or black, so no one can blame you for stray marks on election materials
☐ Notebook and/or one of the forms provided in the section above called “Instructions for Documenting What You See.”
Please follow all rules for observers, including Covid protections. While in most places observing will be completely safe, we cannot guarantee safety. It’s important that you assess the risks involved and make your own decisions about participating.
Observing after the election can be fascinating and rewarding. It’s not always exciting, because processes go on for a long time. You’ll be like an outfielder at a baseball game, spending most of your time simply standing around. But you’ll need to be alert, prepared for that one moment when your swift action can make a big difference.
Get more background information.
Get Additional Resources and Updates:
Complete the form below to let us know where and when you’re planning to observe, so Scrutineers can follow up with you. You’ll also get instant access to additional training materials.
Vote Count Observer Signup
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