Rules for poll watching

Owen Reitzel | Writer
The President has enlisted his supporters to go to the polls and observe very carefully for anything that might not be right. Some believe this could lead to voter intimidation.
South Dakota law allows for poll watchers and observing to be present to observe the voting and counting activity at polling places and provides guidelines for poll watchers and observers.
There are people who are not allowed as Poll Watchers. They are Election Board Workers and candidates on the ballot.
There are strict rules for poll watching. No person may view or publicize the contents of a voter’s voted ballot. Poll watchers must be positioned in a location where they can plainly see and hear what is done within the polling place but may not interfere in any way. Poll watchers and observers may converse with the election board and look at the pollbook only if it doesn’t interfere with the voting process.
Within 100 feet of a poling place (includes absentee polling places) poll watchers and observers may not do any of the following listed below:
• Campaign or wear buttons or clothing containing campaign information
• Solicit votes for or against any person, political party or ballot question
• Maintain an “office or public-address system”
• Interfere with a voter’s free access to the polling place
• Interfere with the official actions of the election board
• Disrupt the administration of the polling place
• Use any communication or photographic device in any manner which repeatedly distracts, interrupts, or intimidates any voter or election worker
• Use any communication, photographic or video device to take video or pictures of the pollbook
• Look into voting booths, read identifying numbers on photo identification cards or interfere with voters in the act of voting or with the official action of the election board
• Disobey a lawful command by any election worker
• Cause a disturbance or breach of peace
• Engage in disorderly conduct such as threatening behavior or making unreasonable noise
• Gather petition signatures
• Use the polling place telephone designated for the election board
• Take any unilateral steps to change any action, inaction or activity occurring at the polling place
• Advocate for or against a voter as the voter interacts with the election board
If a poll watcher or observer has a concern or question about any action occurring in the polling place, that person should bring this concern to the attention of the precinct superintendent. It is then the superintendent’s responsibility to respond to that question or concern.

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