Early voting in Tennessee starts Wednesday, and voters heading to the polls might notice some people inside the voting room watching.
This is not abnormal — and they are not random people. In fact, these “poll watchers” have an established role under Tennessee law.
In recent days, WPLN News listeners have reached out to Curious Nashville with concerns about poll watchers after President Trump asked his supporters to not just vote, but to show up.
“I’m urging my supporters to go into the polls and watch very carefully because that’s what has to happen,” Trump said during last month’s presidential debate. “I’m urging them to do it.”
But Tennessee law is clear: Most people must stay at least 100 feet away from the polling site. Only those credentialed by local election commissions can be within that distance and even inside the site if they serve as poll watchers.
These people, who have to wear a badge at all times, are appointed by political parties or organizations. Their role is to watch and inspect the performance in and around the polling place. They could also raise questions with election officials.
After the polls close, watchers can inspect all ballots while they’re being counted.
But they are prohibited from interfering with voters. If they do so, they could be charged with a class A misdemeanor.
Have you encountered problems while voting? Let us know.