December 29, 2014


Report from CAO Bob Rusten, Burlington.   Dec 15, 2014.

Candidates have contacted the City expressing concern about the City’s position that poll watchers had to be formally registered as a representative of a candidate prior to their be allowed to function in that role. Section 2564 of Title 17, Election Law states in pertinent part the following:

a) Each organized political party, each candidate on the ballot not representing an organized political party, and each committee supporting or opposing any public question on the ballot shall have the right to have not more than two representatives outside the guardrail for the purpose of observing the voting process and challenging the right of any person to vote. In no event shall such representatives be permitted to interfere with the orderly conduct of the election, and the presiding officer shall have authority to impose reasonable rules for the preservation of order. However, in all cases the representatives shall have the right to hear or see the name of a person seeking to vote, and they shall have the right to make an immediate challenge to a person's right to vote.

It is the responsibility of the Ward Clerk to maintain order at the polls. The City’s practice of having poll watchers formally registered as a candidate’s representative, prior to their serving in the statutory capacity, was to help maintain order and ensure a person was actually a representative for a candidate.

Based on our legal research, we find that there is no statutory requirement that a poll watcher formally register at any time, and therefore we will no longer require any form of registration. In addition, our legal research indicates that there is no prohibition as to the number of people who may observe an election from outside of the “guardrail”.