Colorado Secretary of State logo - cube with a C in it

Colorado
Secretary of State
Jena Griswold

Colorado Secretary of State logo - Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold

Picture of Secretary of State Jena Griswold

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Colorado Secretary of State logo - cube with a C in it

Colorado
Secretary of State
Jena Griswold

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Election Watchers

Q1. What is an Election Watcher?

A1. An Election Watcher is an eligible voter who has been appointed by an authorized appointing entity to witness and verify the conduct of an election.

Q2. Who can appoint Election Watchers?

A2. Candidates, political parties, and issue committees are eligible to appoint Election Watchers depending on the type of election. See Appointment of Watchers (PDF) to view who may appoint watchers in each type of election.

Q3. Who is eligible to be an Election Watcher?

A3. To be an Election Watcher, you must:

  • Be an eligible voter in Colorado;
  • Be selected by an authorized appointing entity; and
  • Not be a candidate on the ballot nor an immediate family member by blood, marriage, or civil union to the second degree if watching for the candidate.

Election Watchers do not need to be a resident of a county to watch in a particular county.

See Eligibility of Watchers (PDF) for all of the eligibility requirements.

Q4. What laws and rules are applicable to Election Watchers?

A4. Election Watchers are governed under Title 1 of the Colorado Revised Statutes (aka, the Uniform Election Code of 1992) and Rule 8 of the Secretary of State's Election Rules (PDF). Please familiarize yourself with both the statutes and rules prior to your appointment as a watcher.

To observe election activities where confidential and personally identifiable information may be within view, you must complete the watcher training courses.

Q5. What information must I provide to become an Election Watcher?

A5. You must present a Certificate of Appointment (PDF) to the county clerk and recorder or their designated staff member(s) to watch election activities in that county. Also, familiarize yourself with both the statutes and Election Rules governing Election Watchers prior to your appointment.

Q6. How do I receive my Certificate of Appointment & Oath of Watcher?

A6. The entity appointing you as an Election Watcher must provide you with a signed Certificate of Appointment (PDF) for each county where you intend to observe election activities. You must present the Certificate of Appointment to the county clerk and recorder or their designated staff member(s) and take the oath stated on the Certificate.

Q7. Besides the Certificate of Appointment, is there any other documentation I should bring with me?

A7. To streamline the process at the county clerk's office or voter service and polling center, please provide a current voter registration record with your Certification of Appointment. Doing so will show you are an eligible voter in Colorado. You may obtain your current voter registration record from our online voter registration system: www.GoVoteColorado.com. Additionally, you should contact the Watcher Contact (PDF) in the county where you intend to watch to find out whether any county-specific watcher policies and procedures are in place.

Election Watchers appointed by an authorized issue committee may also provide the issue committee's registration record. Doing so, will show that the issue committee is authorized to appoint you as an Election Watcher. You may obtain the issue committee's registration record via TRACER.

Q8. If I complete the Watcher Training Course what election activities can I observe?

A8. Election Watchers who have taken the Watcher Training Course may observe election activities where confidential or personally identifiable information may be within viewing. This includes:

  • Setup and breakdown of Voter Service and Polling Centers;
  • Voter check-in and registration activities;
  • Ballot receipt and processing;
  • Signature verification of mail ballot envelopes at close enough distance to challenge the signature;
  • Ballot duplication;
  • Ballot tabulation;
  • The Logic and Accuracy Test and Post-Election Audit;
  • Provisional ballot processing;
  • UOCAVA ballot processing;
  • Canvass; and
  • Recount.

Q9. If I have not completed the Watcher Training Course what election activities can I observe?

A9. Election Watchers who have NOT completed the Watcher Training Course can observe:

  • Setup and breakdown of Voter Service and Polling Centers;
  • Ballot duplication;
  • Ballot tabulation;
  • The Logic and Accuracy Test and Post-Election Audit;
  • Canvass; and
  • Recount.

Q10. What are Watchers prohibited from doing?

A10. Election Watchers are prohibited from doing the following activities:

  • Personally disrupting any stage of the election;
  • Writing down any ballot numbers or any other personally identifying information;
  • Touching or handling the official signature cards, ballots, mail ballot envelopes, provisional ballot envelopes, voting or counting machines, or machine components;
  • Interfering with the orderly conduct of any election process;
  • Interacting with election judges other than a designated watcher contact (exceptions under Rule 8.13);
  • Using a mobile phone or other electronic device to make or receive a call in any polling location or other place where election activities are conducted;
  • Using any electronic device to take or record pictures, videos, or audio in any polling location or other place election activities are conducted;
  • Having in his or her possession any mobile phone or other electronic device while watching election activities where voters' confidential or personally identifiable information is within view, unless otherwise approved by the county clerk;
  • Attempting to determine how any elector voted;
  • Disclosing confidential voter information; and
  • Disclosing any results before the polls have closed.

Q11. What additional rights do Watchers have?

A11. A watcher may also track the names of electors who have cast ballots, assist in the correction of discrepancies, challenge electors under C.R.S. 1-9-203, and submit written complaints. In addition, during signature review, a watcher may be allowed to escalate ballot envelope signatures for secondary review by a bipartisan team of election judges if permitted by the county clerk.