Are poll watchers legal in Pennsylvania?


HARRISBURG, Pa (WHTM) – Donald Trump is calling on supporters to become a “Trump Election Observer” to call out a “rigged system” and “cheating” if he were to lose Pennsylvania. Are poll watchers legal?

Last week, GOP Presidential nominee Donald Trump told a crowd in Altoona to suspect cheating if he were to lose the state, as current polls indicate may be a possibility.

“The only way we could lose, in my opinion, I really mean this, Pennsylvania — is if cheating goes on,” he said.

He also encouraged people to become a “Trump Election Observer” on his campaign website, after a donation. An ensuing letter states the campaign will do “everything we are legally allowed to do” [to stop Hilary Clinton].

Are poll watchers legal? According to Pennsylvania State Election Code – yes.

Dauphin County Elections Bureau Director, Jerry Feaser, said “General Watch” certificates are granted by the county.

“[Dauphin County would] provide them to both Republican and Democratic parties. Any candidate committee can request a number for their people who will then go out and do poll watching,” Feaser said.

He said poll watchers typically station themselves at a polling station throughout the duration Election Day. Most track party voters in order to make ‘get out the vote’ [GOTV] call, relay early voter turnout information to campaigns, and try to get quick results when polls close.

According to the rights of a poll watcher, each party of a candidate can appoint up to three poll watchers per polling location. That person also has the ability to call out suspected voter fraud.

But, Feaser said there has been no evidence of such fraud in Dauphin County.

“To my knowledge, there’s really generally no issues of voter fraud in Dauphin County that are credible,” he said.

In a report from the Washington Post, Pennsylvania has found little credible evidence of voter fraud statewide. And, a 2014 nationwide study of a billion votes cast since 2000, found 241 reports of in-person voter fraud.

The law professor who conducted the study said voter fraud was rarer than Powerball winners.

Trump’s intent of poll watchers has been called into question by political pundits.

“We have to have the sheriffs, and the police chiefs, and everybody watching,” Trump stated in Altoona.

The Washington Post pointed out that intimidation at the polls would be a violation of a 1982 consent decree between the DNC and RNC, which set ground rules after the Republican Party was alleged to have had armed guards at minority polling places in New Jersey.

A person who found guilty of violating the decree could be held in contempt of court.

As for Dauphin County, Feaser said election workers are routinely trained on the latest rules and procedures. He strongly believes the workers in the 162 voting districts in the country would ensure a clean, fair election.

“We have a team of well-trained, prepared poll workers at every one of those polling places,” he said.

October 11 is the last day to register for the November 8 general election.Get breaking news, weather, and traffic on the go. Download ABC 27 News for iPhone “>here.

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