Observers are defined as persons appointed by the political party chair or unaffiliated candidate campaign to attend a voting place during voting hours. Observers can be designated as regular observers or observers at large.

Observer Shifts

Observers must be on an approved appointment list provided by the county board of elections to the Chief Judge prior to the opening of polls. It is a requirement for all Observers to check-in with the Chief Judge upon arriving at the Precinct. Badges identifying the individual as an Observer is recommended. Regular observers are required to work shifts in four hour increments, and although the minimum requirement is four hours, they may work a maximum of 13 hours on Election Day. Only two regular observers per party are allowed in the precinct at one time.

At large observers are allowed to roam to any precinct on Election Day without shift requirements. Only one observer at large per party is allowed in the precinct at one time

Precinct observers have certain statutory rights while observing in a designated precinct. Observers are allowed to:

  1. Hear Dialogue – Observers should be in a position to hear dialogue between the election official and the voter
  2. Take Notes – Observers should be allowed to take notes on approved devices
  3. Create voter lists – Observers and/or runners should be allowed to see all ATV form’s at the times of 10 am, 2 pm, and 4 pm
  4. Ask Questions – Observers may ask to speak with the Chief Judge to voice concerns

Observers Limitations

Precinct observers have certain statutory limitations while observing in a designated precinct. Observers are not allowed to:

  1. Impede the process – Impeding is defined as “to interfere or slow the progress of”
  2. Interfere or communicate with any voter
  3. Electioneer – Electioneering is not allowed inside the buffer zone
  4. Leave the voting enclosure without the permission of the Chief Judge
  5. Take Images – Precinct officials will obstruct any device that has image capturing and/or recording capabilities
  6.  Make live data transmissions – Approved devices are computers that have note taking capabilities such as smart phones, tablets, and laptops (not exhaustive). Devices that will be used for note taking purposes must have wireless disabled while in the voting enclosure. The designated precinct official will establish an area outside of the buffer zone that can be used for live data transmissions (texting, talking, and/or internet usage)
  7. Act on behalf of the County Board of Elections – Observers are not precinct officials
  8. No person who is a candidate on the ballot in a primary or election may serve as an observer or runner in that primary or election.

The Chief Judge and Judges of election reserve the right to ensure “peace and good order in and about the place of registration and voting” (GS 163-47) and prevent improper practices. Please be in compliance with the rules established by the Chief Judge and Judges

Board of Elections: 230 Government Center Drive, Suite 38 • Wilmington, NC 28403 • Phone 910-798-7330 • Fax 910-798-7295