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NCEIT Poll Observer Quick Reference Guide 2024

Updated: Feb 4

NCEIT Poll Observer Quick Reference Guide 2024


 You should take thefollowing with you:                                                                                               

·       Clipboard with paper & pen

·       Mobile phone, IPAD or other device with internet access

·       Water, other beverage, snacks or food as needed

·       Portable chair (in the event one is not available at the polling site)

·       Review NCEIT resource documents on the website and print selected ones

·       Bring a sign “Sorry I cannot talk to you while I am on duty as an Observer”. Also bring a sheet to give the Greeters with your contact info for them to text issues to you.

·       Set yourself up on SEIRS on the NCEIT website to report incidents.

·       NOTE: IF, you are on the first shift or last shift on Election day, see these attachments

√ Copy Poll Observer Attachment 1 - Election Day Start Up & Shut Down Process for Poll   


                 √ Send them to:j.flatley@democracycounts.orgsubject: POLL TAPE IMAGES - PRECINCT #

Reporting for Duty

Perform the following once you arrive:

·       Talk to the greeters and provide your name/phone #, so they can text you with problems. Have them pass it on to the next shift

·       Introduce yourself to the Chief Judge (CJ)

·        Inform the CJ of your name and political party

·       Inquire with the CJ if there are special restrictions about the polling place that you need to know. Document them precisely and report them in the SEIRS application.

·       Inform the CJ you will be using a mobile phone or device to record your observations but will not be using your camera inside the enclosure.

·       Position yourself as close to the Registration Desk as possible so you can hear the names/addresses of voters as disclosed


Start Up and Shut Down Procedures - Refer to the separate attachment for the first & last shifts on Election Day


Voter ID

Any of the following that is unexpired, or expired for one year or less:

·       North Carolina driver’s license

·       State ID from the NCDMV (also called “non-operator ID”)

·       Driver’s license or non-driver ID from another state, District of Columbia or U.S. territory (only if voter registered in North Carolina within 90 days of the election)

·       U.S. Passport or U.S. Passport card

·       North Carolina voter photo ID card issued by a county board of elections (available soon)

·       College or university student ID approved by the State Board of Elections

·       State or local government or charter school employee ID approved by the State Board of Elections


Note: A voter 65 or older may use an expired form of acceptable ID if the ID was unexpired on their 65th birthday.


Any of the following, regardless of whether the ID contains an expiration or issuance date:

·       Military or veterans ID card issued by the U.S. government



·       Tribal enrollment card issued by a tribe recognized by the State or federal government

·       ID card issued by an agency of the U.S. government or the State of North Carolina for a public assistance program


Resources: 10 Facts about Voter ID

Voting as a College Student


Voting Process

·       Voter will be asked to state their name and current resident address and present an acceptable form of voter ID (G.S. 163-166.7 (a) and 163-166.16).  Voters must be able to state this info not a person assisting them. 

·       Voters have to live at the residence for at least 30 days prior to the election.

·       Election workers check to see if the picture on the ID reasonably resembles the voter. The address on the photo ID does not have to match the voter registration records. (Voters must state their Party during a Primary.)  The name on the ID is checked against the voter registration list to see that it matches

·       If the voter does not show an acceptable ID, the voter may proceed in one of the two following ways:

               - vote with an ID Exception Form (see items below) and a provisional ballot, or 

               -  vote with a provisional ballot and return to their county board of elections office with their photo ID by the day     

                   before county canvass

·       Voter signs Authorization to Vote (ATV) to obtain official ballot

·       Voter exchanges ATV for ballot at ballot table

·       Voter moves to voting booth & completes ballot

·       Voter moves to scanner and inserts ballot into the tabulator

·       If a voter ‘spoils’ a ballot; he or she may request a new one before scanning the ballot (or after ballot rejection by tabulator for over-votes)

·       Addresses can be updated at one stop early voting if the person is already registered in the county

·       Electronic and written voting guides are permissible in the voting enclosure

·       Persons who may enter the voting enclosure include:     

-  Observers

- A person authorized under G.S. 163-166.8 to assist a voter but, only while assisting that voter.

- Minor children of the voter under the age of 18, or minor children under the age of 18 in the care of the     

   voter, but only while accompanying the voter and while under the control of the voter.

-  Any other person determined by election officials to have an urgent need to enter the voting enclosure but

   only to the extent necessary to address that need.  163-166.3

If problems occur with the above, the following may take place:

·       A replacement ballot should be issued if a mistake is made, e.g., over- voting

·       All spoiled ballots are secured and accounted for by the Chief Judge.

If any voter is unable to show photo ID when voting (whether in person or by mail), they may fill out an ID Exception Form and vote their ballot. The voter will choose from the following permitted exceptions:

  1. The voter has a “reasonable impediment” to showing photo ID. This means that something is preventing the voter from showing ID. The voter must provide their reason by selecting from the following choices on the form.

  • Lack of transportation

  • Disability or illness

  • Lack of birth certificate or other documents needed to obtain ID

  • Work or school schedule

  • Family responsibilities

  • Photo ID is lost, stolen, or misplaced

  • Applied for photo ID but have not received it

  • (For mail voters only) Unable to attach a copy of photo ID (Voter must include driver’s license number or last four digits of Social Security number)

  • Other reasonable impediment (if selected, the voter must write the reason on the form)

  • State or federal law prohibits voter from listing the reason

  1. The voter has a religious objection to being photographed.

  2. The voter was a victim of a natural disaster within 100 days before Election Day that resulted in a disaster declaration by the President of the United States or the Governor of North Carolina.

County boards of elections must count provisional ballots with properly completed ID Exception Forms.


Assistance to Voters

·       Voter must ask the Chief Judge for permission stating the reason and who will assist.

·       Any registered voter qualified to vote in the election shall be entitled to assistance with entering and

               exiting the voting booth and in preparing ballots

-   Any voter is entitled to assistance from the voter's spouse, brother, sister, parent, grandparent, child,     

    grandchild, mother-in-law, father-in-law, daughter-in-law, son-in-law, stepparent, or stepchild, as   

    chosen by the voter

-   Any voter in the categories below is entitled to assistance by a person of the voter’s choice other than their   

     employer/agent of employer or officer/agent of their union.  Chief Judge, Judge or Assistants may also assist.     

     1. physical disability preventing them from entering the voting booth OR marking a ballot.

     2. illiteracy & unable to mark ballot 

     3. blindness & unable to enter voting booth or mark ballot.  GS 163-166.8.



·       Precinct officials shall maintain a log of any individual, other than a minor child under the age of 18 in    

              the care of a voter, who enters the voting place pursuant to this section and is not seeking to vote in that   

              voting place. The log shall include the printed name and address of the individual entering the voting  

              place, the time the individual entered the voting place,  and a space for that individual's signature.

             G.S.163-166.8 (d)


Provisional Ballots

The following circumstances justify issuance of a Provisional Ballot:

     •    The registered voter cannot produce the Voter ID 

             GS 163-166.16 (c)

·       No record of registration found or registration cancelled by local BOE

·       An unrecognized or non-existent address in county  

·       Incorrect precinct, since certain precincts have distinct ballots

·       All votes cast during extended hours, if permitted by NCSBE

·       Reason not-otherwise specified


Absentee Ballots

At Early Voting

·       Absentee ballots cannot be dropped off at curbside voting

·       Absentee ballots must be left at the Registration table.

  On Election Day

Absentee ballots cannot return the absentee ballot to a polling place, only to the county Board of  Elections by 5PM 



Retrievable Ballots

     •   Used for same day registrations   GS 163-82.6B (c)



Poll Observers must be diligent in the following ways:

·       Follow the start-up & shut-down process in the separate attachment for certain shifts

·       Pay close attention and take notes during voting

·       If you observe an incident, be polite and speak to the CJ first to request corrective action for the improper procedure or behavior to comply with the NC General Statutes or Administrative Code and cite the statute or code to the CJ or SS. Report incident on SEIRS..

·       Continually observe the registration process listening for names/addresses and report any incidents

·       Periodically observe curbside voting. Buffer zone is 6 ft. from the vehicle.

·       Periodically approach the ATV Spindle on the Ballot Table if allowed; inspect the ATVs and report any differences in the ATV spindle count and ballot scanner count. See process described below. ** On Election Day check the ending voter counts. 

·       Promptly report ALL incidents into SEIRS, even those that have been resolved

·       Follow the instructions of the CJ, while connecting with the War Room.

Election officials shall not prohibit an observer from doing any of the following, provided that the observer does not interfere with the privacy of any voter or the conduct of the election:

 (1) Taking notes in the voting place, including using an electronic device to take notes.

 (2) Listening to conversations between a voter and election official that take place in the voting place, provided the    

      conversation is related to election administration.

 (3) Moving about the voting place, including the designated area for curbside voting.

 (4) Leaving and reentering the voting enclosure.

 (5) Communicating via phone outside of the voting enclosure.

 (6) Witnessing any opening and closing procedures at the voting place   GS 163-45.1 (g)

- An observer may take photographs inside the voting place before the voting begins and after voting has concluded,    

  provided that the taking of photographs does not impair any election official in executing opening and closing  

  procedures or compromise the security of ballots, election equipment, or election results.  GS 163-45.1 (i)

- An observer may obtain copies of the list of persons who have voted at each voting place. The SBE determines the    

  time which are at least 3 x/day with 1 hour apart.  GS 163-45.1 (l)



Do Not’s

The following behaviors must be avoided:

·       Do not obstruct voters or the voting process

·       Do not observe the marking of ballots in such manner as to see the actual cast votes

·       Do not discuss incidents with anyone but the SS or CJ inside the voting enclosure

·       Do not disrupt a voter or poll worker in the execution of the voting process

·       Do not argue with the CJ

·       Do not wear or display any partisan or campaign clothing or printed materials

·       Do not leave the voting site planning to return without notifying the CJ

·       Must not photograph, video or record a voter without consent of the CJ, then the voter

 Observers shall not do any of the following inside the voting place:

(1) Look at, photograph, videotape, or otherwise record the image of any voter's marked ballot..

(2) Impede the ingress or egress of any voter into the voting place.

(3) Inhibit or interfere with any election official in the performance of his or her duties, including interfering with the transport of sealed ballot boxes, election equipment, or election results to the county board of elections.

(4) Engage in electioneering.

        (5) Make or receive phone calls while in the voting place.    GS 163-45.1 (h)


Removal of Observers

A chief judge may remove an observer who engages in prohibited behavior and for good cause, which shall include evidence that the observer could impact the conduct of the election. Whenever possible, the chief judge shall first issue a verbal or written warning to the observer. The warning must include the time and nature of the offense, and the chief judge must provide the observer a reasonable opportunity to correct the behavior.  GS 163-45.1 (j)



The following should be reported in SEIRS if observed:

·       Long lines, leading to people leaving without voting

·       Improper assistance to voters, e.g., unauthorized persons completing a voter’s ballot or assisting

·       Registrar not requiring voters to report their full name and address

·       Precinct officials providing partisan or suggestive voting information

·       Lack of respect for voter privacy while voters are in the voting booth area

·       Overt interference with the voting process, as outlined above

·       Other groups raising incidents with the SS or CJ

·       Polls not opening or closing on time

·       Ballots being cast after closing of the polls

·       Electioneering activity inside the polls or within the buffer zone

·       Any disruptive activities

·       Taking photographs or videos, or making/receiving phone calls

·       Voters removing an official ballot from the voting enclosure


Contacts & Follow-up

Report ALL incidents, regardless of whether they remain unresolved to: 

·        NCEIT – either electronically or by phone

             - Log into SEIRS on line at . You can check back any time in the SEIRS application  

                to update your report, check the status and assignment of an incident. 

             -  Call the SEIRS War Room “Hotline” during the General Election Cycle at 919-774-9682. 

·       Your County – either electronically or by phone to your County War Room





** Process for cross checking the number of ATV's against the scanner count

     -  Count the number of the ATV's on the spindle at the ballot table 

     -  Count the number of voters in the voting enclosure (they have their ballots, but have not put their ballot 

          in the ballot scanner)

      -   Check the number of votes on the scanner (tabulator)

      # votes on scanner  +  # of voters in voting enclosure = ATVs


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