Election watchers watching out for voters during election

Posted at 5:50 PM, Nov 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-03 20:42:38-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — On Election Day, there are people at polling locations watching out for voters across Southern Colorado and they're called election watchers, otherwise known as poll watchers. They're the eyes and ears of what's happening at voting locations on Election Day and making sure everything is running smoothly.

Election watchers represent both political parties and report to local officials about issues they may find. They're eligible voters appointed by political parties or candidates.

Mike Maday is a poll watcher for the democratic party in El Paso County, and this is his 3rd election, where he'll be driving to different polling locations on Election Tuesday.

"We're concerned about the intimidation of voters, electioneering too close to a polling location, and voters being turned away and not being allowed to vote for some reason," said Maday. "We're involved in various parts of the election process. We're allowed to go into the polling location and observe the election process and make sure everybody gets a chance to vote."

Election watchers also answer voter's questions, observe ballot drop-off boxes and also observe the counting process. Maday says there are about 50 election watchers on the democratic side in El Paso County, and it's a role he takes pride in.

"I really think it's important that everybody get a chance to vote, whether that they're a Republican or Democrat, or unaffiliated, we want to make sure everybody gets the chance to vote and nobody's turned away," said Maday.

However on the Republican side in El Paso county, poll watchers are hard to come by. News5 tried to find one to interview, but had no luck.

"For a large part, the idea of a poll watcher has kind of gone away at the dodo," said Eli Bremer, former chairman of the El Paso County Republican Party.

Bremer said there's not much of a need for poll watchers anymore, after Colorado law changed in 2012 and more people began voting with mail-in ballots.

"With the advent of universal mail-in voting in Colorado and the very diminished in-person voting, that functionality just doesn't exist anymore," said Bremer.
Bremer says when he was chairman of the party in the last presidential election, there were substantial in-person polling, "so it was definitely a needed things at the time," he said. "But now, people have mobile devices so they can record anomalies."

Bremer did mention while he was chairman, the republican party had poll watchers at every polling location in the county.

However, members of both parties are optimistic it's a fair election in El Paso County.

"There's a lot of trust in this county to know that things are being done properly. It's a very secure system that's been put in place by Colorado, and I think republicans in Colorado Springs can feel very secure about how the votes are counted." said Bremer.

"I have to say, this election has been run very smoothly," said Maday. "We're not seeing any significant problems because Colorado is a very safe place to vote and it's a very transparent process."
Before Election Day, election watchers must complete a training course on what to look out for, and then they are recognized by the Colorado Secretary of State.