In some cases, poll monitors are only allowed inside the polling place if they
have prior permission, in the form of credentials obtained either through a political party, or from a particular candidate,
or from the county election official directly. Poll monitors credentialed by a party may be allowed to observe the updated
roster of the local precinct’s voters – to see who has come to vote, and who has not yet voted. A candidate’s
or party’s worker could then contact voters or work with others to get out the vote for their party or candidate. Some
party or candidate poll monitors may seek to challenge voters whom they believe are not eligible to vote in that precinct.
In other cases, any interested person may enter the polling place to observe, provided that they do
not disrupt the proceedings in any way nor compromise any voter’s right to privacy. It is usually up to the chief poll
worker or election judge in the precinct to determine whether a person is being disruptive or not, so observers should exercise
good judgment and seek to be cooperative at all times, so as not to risk being removed from the premises and forgoing your
opportunity to observe.
Once you have your credentials or have confirmed that none are required, you will need to decide where
you will observe. Don’t forget: if you intend to serve as a poll monitor in another state, you must research the requirements
in that state. For example, California makes no specific credentialing requirement of observers, but Florida does require
prior credentials through a legitimate political party or a specific candidate on the ballot. In some states, for example
Colorado, you are not permitted to serve as a poll watcher if you are not a registered voter in the specific county where
you will observe. You cannot observe in another county.
Observe the following procedures at the opening of the polls:
Machine Set Up: Electronic voting machines are positioned (with enough distance between them and at such an
angle as to allow privacy), set up (on built in stands or separate booths, with privacy shields), plugged in to an electrical
outlet, and started up prior to the opening of the polling place. This can take hours or minutes, depending on the type of
equipment used. For example, the ES&S iVotronic used in Miami-Dade County, Florida, has been known to take several hours
to get up and running ready for use; for this reason it is usually set up and started the night before voting begins. Other
machines may take as little as 10 minutes each to set up and start. Find out for your area, so that you can observe at the
Zero Tape: Before voting can begin, each machine MUST produce a “zero tape.” This means the
poll-worker starts the machine, issues a series of commands to start the election, including asking the machine to print a
totals tape showing that zero votes have been cast on the machine at the start of the election. Confirm that a zero tape was
produced from each machine in use. If the machine could not produce a zero tape (example: it failed to remain “on”
and would shut off while printing was underway), IT SHOULD NOT BE USED FOR VOTING. The machine should be taken out
The zero tape is usually retained within the printer bay of the machine itself until the end of the day’s voting,
when the tally of all votes cast on that machine during the day will be printed further on the same tape. If it is not retained
within the machine’s printer bay, or if it is removed, observe what is done with the tape, and ask to view the serial
number and printout of the zero tape.
(Note: we know of at least two counties where printing zero tapes are not be part of the official procedure (Riverside
Co., CA) or where voting machines currently do not have printers and thus cannot print zero tapes (Santa Clara Co., CA). Challenging
these known limitations on Election Day could be problematic and don't get yourself kicked out of your venue. Please
note counties where this is not done and call this into the +1 866 OUR-VOTE hotline.)
Serial Numbers: Log the serial number of each voting machine as it is opened and prepared for the election.
Compare this number at the end of the day to the serial numbers on the top of every report for the polling location.
Seals and Bays: Each machine has a drive bay for a memory unit; some machines have additional bays which may
house wireless communications capability or other modem devices. Some states prohibit the use of wireless communication devices;
most “best practices” reject the practice of allowing wireless communication capabilities. Ask if you can see
inside the second bay door.
If you are permitted to observe at close range as the machines are set up at the start of the voting day, you should
observe tamper-proof seals or tamper-tape covering the bay doors and locks prior to the machine being set up
for the day. If NO tamper-proof seal was covering the bay door/s, or if it appeared the seal was broken or compromised prior
to the setup of the machine, please make note of it. You may ask the poll worker or election official setting up the equipment
if there is a policy in place regarding the seal(s). If a machine’s seal was compromised, the equipment should not
be used (even if it prints a zero tape).
Guidelines for Observing at the Polls
Many voting systems require the use of a voter card, sometimes called a smart card, which
is provided to the voter after s/he signs in at the poll register. This card should be programmed before each use. The voter
card programmer device must be set up, plugged in and booted up to the proper program before the polling place can open. This
device programs the card so that the proper precinct and ballot type is presented on the voting machine when the voter inserts
the card. Problems with voter card programmers (sometimes called precinct control centers or precinct control modules) have
been known to delay poll-opening by hours, when the device fails to boot up to the proper screen, thus disenfranchising many
voters who are unable to wait to vote. Observe that it is functioning as expected, and make note if it does not.
Some jurisdictions now use “electronic pollbooks” – please make note whether your polling place
has a hard copy pollbook (list of registered voters for that precinct), or whether an electronic listing on a computer device
is used. If the electronic pollbook is used, it must either contain all the data for that polling place or be connected to
a central computer via an internet connection, for example. This is another peripheral device which, if it malfunctions or
doesn’t function the way it is expected to, can severely delay poll operations and disenfranchise voters. Please make
note if there are any problems with the function of the electronic pollbook.
After Polls Open
Once voting begins, be alert to problems that may occur during the day.
Problems with voter card programmer? Do you hear any complaints from voters about not being able to find all
the candidates they expect to see on their ballot, about a ballot seeming incomplete, or other indications that the card has
been programmed incorrectly? (Note that incorrectly programmed voter cards have disenfranchised numbers of voters –
particularly when they are voting on local issues and especially when precincts are combined into a “joint” polling
place. This is happening with increasing frequency around the country, and is to be anticipated in Florida and other areas
where hurricane damage caused election officials to have to regroup. Poll workers and election judges must take extra caution
to provide the correct ballot type to the voter.)
Problems with screen calibration? A common –and very alarming—problem with touchscreen voting
machines occurs when calibration is “off” a little bit, which means that a voter will attempt to select a candidate
on one part of the screen, and a different area of the screen will light up as selected. If repeated attempts to correct the
problem are unsuccessful the machine probably should be taken offline (if there is a sufficient number of functioning machines
in the polling place), as voters will find it very difficult to feel confident that their vote was accurately recorded under
such circumstances. Calibration problems can occur when machines are jostled or dropped, and may possibly occur even in the
process of transporting the equipment to the polling place. Note what happens with the machine in question; note whether voters
are directed to different machines if they are available and if the problem machine has not been taken offline.
Problems with power loss? Most electronic voting machines have some battery power to serve as backup in the
case of power loss. However, this may be limited to only two hours or less, depending on whether the machines were fully charged
prior to set up. Poll workers should make sure the outlet being used is “live” at the start of the day; often
a “battery” indicator will appear on the machine if it is plugged in but not receiving power. If the power goes
out in the area for any reason, make note of how long the batteries operate before machines begin to shut off. If power does
go out, find out if there is a sufficient supply of paper emergency ballots in case the power does not come back on before
Problems with machine function? Lack of familiarity with voting equipment may contribute to problems in use. Such
problems can include:
· Accidentally resting a thumb on one side of the screen while selecting with
the other hand which can result in the wrong candidate’s name lighting up inadvertently;
· Inadvertently shifting a selector wheel (such as on the eSlate, which does
not use a touchscreen) one position further than intended, especially when voting a straight ticket, which can result in selecting
a straight ticket of a different party;
· A sleeve brushing a part of the screen can trigger a “selection”
even when the voter did not intend it;
· Some machines must be touched once on the screen to cause them to start up
and show the ballot so the voter can begin; if the voter does not know this, they may think the machine does not work, or
may feel that they somehow do not know how to operate the machine correctly.
None of these are “voter error” but rather the effect of using a complex piece of equipment for voting.
This may be the first time the election judges or poll workers are facing this equipment too (other than training they may
have received), and so may not be familiar with how to resolve every issue. Note whether poll workers assist the voters, offer
guidance in how to use the equipment, etc., or whether they react in an indifferent manner or appear not to know how to resolve
Problem with machine failure? What happens when a machine is not functioning properly? Make detailed notes
about the problem which causes the machine to be taken offline, and observe carefully what is done with the machine. Were
they able to print out a total of the votes cast on the machine before taking it down? Was the memory card left in the machine
or removed? Were seals attached? Note the machine’s serial number and whether any ballots were cast on the machine prior
to its failure. Also, note whether the machine was replaced or not. If it was replaced, the new equipment should have undergone
the IDENTICAL set-up procedures including printing a zero tape. Make note if any technical assistant was present and whether
he or she worked for the county or was employed by a voting machine vendor.
Voter Card Reprogramming: Should happen each time the card is used. If election workers are not reprogramming
the cards for every use, please make note of it. If it is feasible to ask the chief election judge or other poll worker about
policy on the matter, do so, but only if your question is not going to be perceived as hostile or disruptive.
Other issues to watch for:
· Do election judges keep a running tally and check the tally on a regular
basis through the day to make sure the number of votes on the machines is consistent with the number of voters who came through
the doors that day?
· Are accessibility devices (e.g. headset, keypad) for use with the voting
machines set up in the morning and do they function properly?
Once voting has finished for the day, poll workers must follow several procedures to
complete the process and close the polls. Try to observe as closely as you are permitted as the poll worker goes through each
Note if there is a running tally of ballots cast on the face of the touchscreen or other voting machine (some
show a number on the screen). Make a note of this tally in order to compare it with the tally tape and precinct totals,
if at all possible.
Each machine’s vote totals should be printed as part of the election closing procedures, so
no more votes may be cast on the machine. The supervisor will usually insert a supervisor’s card (like a voter card,
but with additional privileges) and select “close election” and go through the steps to produce the tally. This
tally usually is printed on the same tape as the morning’s “zero tape.” The poll worker may print out several
Then the memory card containing the voted ballots is removed from the port, and in some cases the poll worker
may re-seal the port doors. Note whether seals are used.
The poll workers may have a procedure guide to follow; here are links to procedures for closing the polls for each
of several types of electronic voting systems. See the Voting Technology Manuals section of the web page at http://verifiedvoting.org/article.php?list=type&type=63
Typically, election officials will inventory all the equipment including the number of voter cards, supervisor cards,
and the memory cards from each machine, etc.
Some procedures include the use of an “accumulator” machine: one voting machine is designated to accept
vote totals from ALL the machines (including its own vote totals) to run an accumulated total. (On some machines, this may
be done via wireless transfer of vote totals from one machine to another: make note if this is the case as it
indicates the presence of wireless communication capabilities.)
Usually, the memory card from each voting machine is inserted into the accumulator machine and the results uploaded
for accumulation. After all totals have been added to the one machine, a printout should be run of the accumulated total.
This accumulated printout may be what is posted at the polling place.
If a modem transfer of results is to be used, the modem connection will then be made from the accumulator
machine (usually via a phone line) to the jurisdiction’s central election headquarters.
Alternately, if no accumulation is done in the polling place by machine, poll workers will note the totals from each
machine’s printout onto a card or form for that purpose, will make note of the number of provisional ballots cast and/or
absentee ballots received (but not the votes from these—votes from the paper ballots will be counted at the central
facility in most cases).
The machines are turned off and closed up. Some machines are held closed with zip-ties and possibly small
seals, which may be numbered. Others may be packed into cases.
Memory cards are then bundled together with one copy of the tally tape from the machine the card pertained to, and all
are packaged to be transferred to the central headquarters along with voting equipment.
Many states’ election laws prescribe the manner in which the polls are to be closed, including in some cases requiring
that a printed copy of the total results from that polling place be posted in a prominent location for the public to view.
· Do election judges or poll workers print polling place totals at the
polling place before connecting any electronic communications out of the polling place?
· Is a copy of printed polling place totals posted for public review
at the polling place at the end of the day? It must be outside, on the door or wall so that the public may view the totals
and log them to compare later with reported precinct totals.
Make note of the final vote totals from the polling place. Compare them with the running tally you logged at the end
of the day from the machines themselves, and note any discrepancy.
Hart Intercivic eslate Polling Place Operations Training manual
Boulder Chart display
3/7/06 Tony Phyrillas
While most Republicans figured out long ago that "Emperor Rendell Has No Clothes," the left is enamored by Rendell, who
sought, signed and defended the July 7, 2005, pay raise. Rendell’s back-room dealing with the GOP leadership in the
Legislature also gave us the worst gambling bill in the country and the notorious Act 72, which is no way to fund public education.
Rendell’s fingerprints are all over a succession of bad legislation and tax hikes. But too many of his fellow Democrats
and the state's liberal newspapers (the two worst are based in Philadelphia) have given Rendell a free pass on their editorial
pages. They banner stories about Lynn Swann not voting in primary elections, but overlook Rendell’s selling out Pennsylvania
to casino interests or funneling of hundreds of millions of tax dollars to Philadelphia at the expense of the rest of the
In order for substantial changes to be made in Pennsylvania government this year, the turnout for the May 16 primary election
must set a record. That won't happen if Libertarians, Green Party members, Constitution Party members and independents sit
out the primary, which is what they will be doing if they don't switch their registration to Republican or Democrat. Primary
elections are designed for political parties to settle on their candidates for the November general election. That means only
registered Democrats and Republicans get to vote.
It's the Libertarians, the Greens, the Constitution Party and the independent voters who can have the final say in how
much movement there is in Pennsylvania's status quo government. But change won't happen if third-party voters sit out the
May 16 primary.
At least for one day, third-party or independent voters must register as Democrats or Republicans to make their votes count.
The last day to register before the primary is April 17.
Tony Phyrillas is a columnist for The Mercury in Pottstown. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org...
February 25, 2006
For some of you, this will be bitter medicine.
But if you're serious about ousting
the legislators who came down on the wrong side of last summer's illegal instant pay raise, here's what some of you will have
Change your voter registration.
Before I explain why, let's review the list of legislators who either
voted for the raise and/or accepted the illegal instant money. I enjoy running it every so often.
$$$ PAUL SEMMEL,
KEITH McCALL, T.J. ROONEY, MARIO SCAVELLO, DAVE ARGALL, ROBERT GODSHALL, MIKE O'PAKE, DAVID BRIGHTBILL, JOE CONTI, STEWART
GREENLEAF, JIM RHOADES, DOUG REICHLEY and JOHN SIPTROTH $$$
Since I last ran that list, Conti has joined Rooney
among those who have decided not to seek re-election. I hope more join them.
But in the meantime, we have a problem.
Thanks to massive gerrymandering, most incumbents are in election districts populated largely by people in their own party.
This makes it tough to defeat them in a general election, because so many voters would have to cross party lines.
that reason, the incumbents are most vulnerable in the primary election.
So if you're serious about cleaning house
— and I would go beyond that list to include any legislator who isn't actively trying to reform the mess in Harrisburg
— you may have to change your registration.
I'm doing it. The incumbent in my district is a payjacking do-nothing
who belongs to a different party than I do. I was delighted to get official word the other day that he'll face a challenge
in the primary election this spring. So I'm going to change my registration. I'm trying to convince the rest of my family
to do the same thing.
Don't worry. If you're really a Republican, for example, you still get to vote for Republicans
in the general election, if you choose. For that matter, you can change your registration back after the primary...
What was done in 2004 to save Arlen from defeat by toomey...
Big Labor Tries to Throw GOP Election in Pennsylvania
Wes Vernon, NewsMax.com
March 26, 2004
WASHINGTON – A labor union wants its Democrat members to raid Pennsylvania's
Republican primary and save an endangered RINO.
Robert S. Scardelleti, president of Transportation Communications International Union, sent registration cards to thousands
of TCIU members in the Keystone State urging they switch to the GOP in time to rescue Sen. Arlen Specter, Republican in name
only, from a humiliating defeat