Explainer: What “poll watching” really means

Explainer: What “poll watching” really means

Nathan Howard/Getty Images Proud Boys clash with each other during a rally in Portland, Oregon. President Trump is trying to recruit an “ army ” of poll watchers for Election Day. As part of his ongoing disinformation campaign about election fraud, these aggressive appeals to his supporters are raising worries about voter intimidation—or worse. Meanwhile, Facebook just announced new rules that will no longer allow “militarized” language for poll watching on its platform. When asked about a video of Donald Trump Jr. calling for an “election security operation,” Facebook’s vice president of content policy, Monika Bickert, told reporters that “under the new policy if that video were to be posted again, we would indeed remove it.” (The original video is still online.) But poll watching is a legitimate activity used by both parties and outside groups to monitor the vote. And every state has specific rules about what poll watchers can and cannot do. What is a poll watcher? A poll watcher’s job is to make sure every candidate has a fair chance of winning an election. In most states they are appointed, authorized, and trained, and must follow very specific rules. Typically they watch for any irregularities or violations of local election codes. If they spot an issue, they aren’t allowed to intervene directly with voters but must work with election officials. Donald Trump Jr.’s video would be removed from Facebook under new rules. What is Trump asking poll watchers to do? Trump is arguing that Democrats are […]

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