How well do you know polling place rules?
November 8, 2016
With increased attention on sending challengers and poll watchers to observe the election on November 8th, here’s a Pop Quiz to test your knowledge of the rules governing an election.
All questions and answers are based on documentation the Secretary of State’s Bureau of Elections sent local clerks.
(1) True or False. A candidate for office must leave the polling place after he or she votes?
(2) True or False. A poll watcher must carry credentials issued by an appointing authority?
(3) True or False. A poll challenger and a poll watcher are banned from using a cell phone in the polling place?
(4) True or False. A challenger can talk to a voter after he or she votes but not before?
(5) True or False. A voter may be challenged if it is clear he or she can not speak English?
(6) True or False. Each political party is limited to only two challengers in the precinct at any time?
(7) True or False. Exit pollsters are regulated by Michigan election law?
(8) True or False. A picture ID can only be used to identify the person wanting to vote but not his or her address?
(9) True or False. C-Span cannot be viewed in the polling place?
(10) True or False. TV news crews can shoot video in the polling place as long as voters and their ballots are not shown?
After you have taken the quiz, go to the bottom of this MIRS report for the answers and commentary on the answers.
Number 1: True. In order to avoid any campaigning in the polling place, all candidates have to leave the building. They can, however, campaign outside 100 feet from the polls.
Number 2: False. State election law makes a distinction between challengers and poll watchers. Challengers need credentials, but poll watchers do not. By the same token, the watchers cannot challenge any voters.
Number 3: False. Cell phones are permitted for watchers and challengers, but video cameras and recording devices are prohibited in the polling place.
Number 4: False. Challengers and poll watchers do not have the right to approach and question voters and they are prohibited from offering any instructions on the voting process.
Number 5: False. The only reason a voter can be challenged is when “there is good reason to believe that voter is not eligible to vote in that precinct.” Hence their manner of dress, inability to read and write English, race or ethic background or the need for assistance with the voting process, does not serve as grounds for seeking to block that voter from voting.
Number 6: True. This one is straight-forward. Parties are limited to two challengers at a time and only one of them at a time can actually make a challenge but that power can be shifted between the two but the precinct chair must be notified as to whom is doing the challenging. Challengers cannot be candidates for office.
Number 7: False. Michigan election law does not address the issue of exit polling, but the rules prevent them from talking to voters before they go in and the exit pollsters must remain 20 feet from the entrance to the building. They cannot enter the building either.
Number 8: True. The picture ID is only used to make sure the voter is who he or she says they are.
Number 9. True. As popular as C-Span is, TV monitors are banned from the polling place, which makes for a very long day for the senior citizens working at the polls.
Number 10. False. TV coverage of the voting is limited to the “public area” of the building and restricted in the actual “polling place.”