Poll watching is a way to spend a couple of volunteer hours supporting a party, candidate, or ballot question. Usually, poll watching is a means to keep track of which voters have already cast their ballots, in order to focus get-out-the-vote (GOTV) efforts on those who haven’t. Some poll watchers will approach it as a more general watchdog function, too.

Several local candidates are putting out a call for poll watchers right now. This does not leave much time for training, so here are a few tips for staying on the right track come Election Day even if you are a rookie poll watcher.

What You Need

1. You need to be a registered Illinois voter.
2. You need poll watcher credentials for each precinct you are working.

What to Do When You Arrive

1. Approach election judges when they are free.
2. Surrender your credentials to the election judges.
3. Sign in with the judges when you arrive and sign out when you leave.

What You Are Allowed to Do

1. You may observe any and all election procedures in your assigned precinct(s) as long as you are not in the way.
2. You may read any and all election materials as long as you do not touch them.
3. You may address election judges with questions about #1 and #2.
4. You have the right to hear the judge state the name and address of each voter.
5. You have the right to tell an election judge if you think s/he has made a mistake.
6. You have the right to challenge the eligibility of a voter if you have a reason.
7. You may request copies of election results tapes for your assigned precinct(s) at the end of the day.
8. You may bring tasty snacks to share with election judges.

What You Are Not Allowed to Do

1. You may not wear badges or apparel that identify a party, organization or candidate.
2. You may not address or converse with voters.
3. You may not touch election judges, voters, or any election materials.
4. You may not remain in the polling place after you’ve signed out.

yinn is beginning her 5th year as a DeKalb County election judge.