Watching the Vote

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More than ever before, Florida voters will be scrutinized as they go to the polls Tuesday. Poll watchers and observers aren't new to the election process, but there will be more of them at the polls this year, looking for irregularities in voter registrations.

They're observing the poll workers and watching you vote, but they aren't there to sway your vote. Mark Andersen, the Bay County supervisor of elections, says these volunteers aren't trained and they can even challenge your right to vote.

"It's actually a good thing. If I got poll watchers there watching my poll workers, which they shouldn't mind because they're going to follow the rules and standards and teaching that we've already done in the class."

But Andersen says these watchers should have some training about the law and standard procedure, he says it's hard to ask questions once the crowds start to pour in.

“It's not really fair. The poll workers have to have three hours of training and poll watchers just get to show up.”

The major parties in a county select poll watchers and submit a list to the supervisor of elections before the voting starts. This year more than 30 Republicans will watch and only two Democrats will watch.

Bobby Roberts, the chairman of the Republican Party in Bay County, says they want watchers in place to prevent the debacle that occurred in Florida four years ago.

“We're not here to keep anybody from voting. We just want to make sure that the people that vote are registered to vote and they get a chance to vote.”

But Andersen warns voters not to be intimidated.

“They can challenge a person's right to vote, but they better have some evidence to show why.”

And when the polls close Tuesday evening, anyone can become a watcher when the tallys start.