Poll Watchers

In Texas elections, a Poll Watcher is a person appointed to observe the conduct of an election on behalf of:

  • A candidate;
  • A political party; or
  • The proponents or opponents of a measure (specific-purpose political action committees)

Acceptance at a Polling Location

Poll watchers must receive a certificate of appointment and present that certificate to the presiding judge at the polling place. The forms for those certificates are available here:

Poll watchers must also complete the Texas Secretary of State’s program and present a certificate of completion to the presiding judge in order to be accepted as a poll watcher. Once you complete the training, simply print the certificate of completion and have it ready to present to the presiding judge along with your certificate of appointment.

Complete the Poll Watcher Training Program

Poll watchers are allowed to observe and report on irregularities in the conduct of any election, but may not interfere in the orderly conduct of an election. A watcher appointed under Chapter 33 of the Texas Election Code shall observe without obstructing the conduct of an election and call to the attention of an election officer any observed or suspected irregularity or violation of law in the conduct of the election.

Oath and Qualifications

Before being accepted, the poll watcher must take the following oath, administered by the presiding judge at the polling place:

"I swear (or affirm) that I will not disrupt the voting process or harass voters in the discharge of my duties."

To become a poll watcher, you must:

  • Be a registered voter of the territory (e.g., city, school district) covered by the election and of the county for November general elections for state and county officers (held on even-numbered years), primary elections, or other countywide elections;
  • NOT be a candidate for public office in an election held on the day the watcher seeks to serve;
  • NOT hold an elective public office;
  • NOT be an employee of an election judge or clerk serving at the same polling place;
  • NOT have been finally convicted of an offense in connection with conduct directly attributable to an election; AND
  • NOT be related within the second degree of consanguinity or affinity (as determined by Tex. Gov’t Code, Secs. 573.022-573.025) to an election judge or clerk serving at that polling place. These include spouses, siblings, grandparents, and grandchildren. A watcher may be related to the candidate the watcher is representing.

Removal from Polling Place

A presiding judge at a polling location may not have a watcher removed from the polling place unless a violation of election law or any other provision of law relating to the conduct of an election is observed by an election judge or clerk. However, a presiding judge may remove a poll watcher for a violation of the Penal Code, regardless of whether the election judge or clerk observed the violation. Additionally, a presiding judge may call a law enforcement officer to request a poll watcher be removed if the poll watcher commits a breach of the peace or a violation of law.

Poll Watcher’s Guide

To learn more about a poll watcher’s duty and the types of illegal activities a watcher should look for, please read the Texas Secretary of State’s Poll Watcher Guide (PDF).