Poll watchers

A poll watcher is a representative of a political party, candidate, civic organization, or proposition who is legally assigned to a vote center, processing center, or ballot drop box to observe the conduct of the election.

There are three categories of observers who are permitted in vote centers, processing centers, or at a drop box:

  • Media observers are credentialed members of news media.
  • Official observers are credentialed by the Colorado Secretary of State or by the federal government.
  • Poll watchers are credentialed by the county Clerk and Recorder. These instructions provide information on how to obtain credentials from the Jefferson County Clerk and Recorder.

**Please note that large personal items are prohibited in all ballot processing areas of the Jeffco Elections Division. Visitors may keep their mobile phones and wallets on their person, but all other items must either be concealed in the visitor’s vehicle or checked at the Elections Front Counter. For visitors who wish to check their items, elections staff will document receipt of checked materials and store them in a locked container. 

Who can appoint a poll watcher? 

General Election or Congressional Vacancy Election

  • a political party chairperson on behalf of the party
  • a registered issue committee for or against a ballot issue
  • an unaffiliated candidate
  • a write-in candidate

Coordinated Election

Jefferson County School Board or an entity that will appear on the Coordinated ballot (Municipality or Special District)

  • a candidate
  • a registered issue committee for or against a ballot issue

*Parties cannot appoint watchers in a Coordinated Election.* 

Municipal Election

  • a candidate
  • registered issues committees for or against a ballot issue

Primary Election

  • a party candidate on the ballot
  • a political party chairperson on behalf of the party

Recall Election

  • the official subject to recall
  • a successor candidate on the recall ballot

Recounts

  • the candidate involved in the recount
  • a political party chairperson on behalf of a party involved in the recount
  • a registered issue committee for or against a ballot issue involved in the recount

Poll watcher appointment requests

Appointing authorities can also complete the Poll Watcher Appointment Request Form (XLS). This will streamline the watcher process by allowing staff to pre-verify the eligibly and registration statuses for watchers.

Rules of appointment

Carefully read the state statute and Colorado Secretary of State Rules regarding the appointment of poll watchers.

All poll watchers must complete and bring the following documents, available via the link below: 

  • Watcher Certificate of Appointment (signed by an appointing authority). If the watcher is watching a ballot drop box, the Certificate of Appointment must state the locations, dates, and times the watcher intends to watch the drop box(es). 
  • Certificate of completion form (produced after completing the Secretary of State Watcher Training course, or a Watcher Training Course prepared by your party and approved by the Colorado Secretary of State).
  • If watching a ballot drop box, a badge provided by the entity listed on the watcher's Certificate of Appointment that clearly states in bold-faced type "Official Election Watcher for [insert entity or candidate]".

Colorado Secretary of State - Poll Watcher Documents and FAQ

To certify more than one watcher, please see the Poll Watcher Appointment Requests section below for pre-verification steps.

Poll watchers at the Ballot Processing Center

Upon first entering the Elections Division office, watchers must present their Certificate of Appointment and their Watcher Training Certificate of Completion to the front desk staff. The front desk staff member will administer the oath of watcher and both the front desk staff member and watcher must sign the oath on the certificate. Watchers who have submitted their Watcher Training Certificate of Completion will have access to areas where election activities are taking place, even if voters’ Personally Identifiable Information (PII) is in view. Watchers who lack a training certificate will not be permitted to watch signature verification, reconciliation of signature cards, the processing of cure letters, or any other activity where content such as voter dates of birth, identification numbers, or signatures is visible. Watchers may come and go throughout the day at the Elections Division and its ballot processing areas without presenting a new certificate, and the watcher may return on another day without presenting new credentials. However, a watcher’s ability to return to watch other activities is subject to availability and space limitations.

Poll watchers at a Voter Service and Polling Center

Upon first entering the assigned location, watchers must present the Certificate of Appointment and their Watcher Training Certificate of Completion to the supervisor judge at each location where the watcher is designated to observe. The supervisor judge will administer the oath of watcher, and both the supervisor and the watcher must sign the oath on the certificate. Watchers who have submitted their Watcher Training Certificate of Completion will have access to areas where voters’ Personally Identifiable Information (PII) is in view. Watchers who lack a training certificate will not be permitted to watch voter check-in and registration activities. Watchers may speak only to the site supervisor and must remain at least six feet away from voters at all times. Watchers may come and go throughout the day at the same location without presenting a new certificate. A watcher may observe in another location using the same credentials, as long as the watcher presents those credentials to the supervisor at the next VSPC.

Poll watchers at a Ballot Drop Box

Drop box watchers will need to present their Certificate of Appointment and Watcher Training Certificate of Completion to the main office of the Elections Division, where a front desk staff member will administer the oath. The Certificate of Appointment must identify which drop boxes the watcher intends to observe and on what dates and times. If the watcher intends to observe a drop box that is in the same building as or outside of a Voter Service and Polling Center, the drop box watcher will also need to present a copy of their certificate of appointment to the supervisor at the Voter Service and Polling Center.

Drop box watchers need to provide their own badges that clearly state “Official Election Watcher for [insert appointing entity or candidate]” in bold-faced type. When checking in at the Elections Division, the watcher will also need to show their badge and have it approved by Elections Division staff. If the drop box watcher is appointed by multiple entities, they must have a badge for each appointing entity or candidate.

Watcher Affirmations

The watcher must affirm that he or she will not: 

  • Attempt to determine how any elector voted;
  • Attempt to review confidential voter information unless they have taken the watcher training provided by the Secretary of State under Election Rule 8.1.5; or
  • Disclose or record any confidential voter information that he or she may observe; or
  • Disclose any results before the polls have closed and the election official has announced the results.