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:

Come to the live training or watch the pre-recorded video below or read the transcript.

The video covers what to look for and what to document in your notes.

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.

Show up, observe, take notes, and let us know how it goes.

If you have problems or need help, ask us for help.

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.

You can read the transcript here. It includes thumbnail images of the slides.

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 detailJUST RIGHTToo 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

You can download a printable copy of this list.

☐ 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.”

Download printable version

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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If you live in more than one state (like if you’re a college student studying away from home), select the state where you’ll vote in the next election.
Please enter the date of the election where you plan to observe vote processing/counting, so we can follow up with you.
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Bring The AFTER Project training to your group or volunteers:

We’re available to deliver the introductory training live to interested groups working for fair and transparent elections. Contact us for details.