Skip to main content

Watchers may observe election activities at Arapahoe County Voter Service and Polling Centers and at our Elections Facility where ballots are processed.

To be a watcher, you must be registered to vote in Colorado and formally appointed by an authorized individual or entity. Please note: Candidates and family members of candidates (by blood, marriage or civil union) are not permitted to be watchers for that candidate. 

For the 2020 General Election: Pursuant to Election Rule 27 (8 CCR 1505-1): Watchers must follow state and county public health guidelines when observing a VSPC or the Elections Facility. Watchers must wear a mask where election activities are taking place and maintain strict social distancing guidelines with a minimum of six feet between each person wherever possible. Watchers must have their temperature taken when they report to any location. Anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms while at a VSPC or location where other election activities are occurring must immediately report that to an appropriate county official and leave the location.

Who Can Appoint Watchers

Under State law, certain individuals and entities are entitled to appoint watchers, depending on the type of the election. (See Colorado Revised Statutes for more information.)

  • Primary Elections: (C.R.S. 1-7-105)
    • Political party candidates (candidate)
    • The chairperson of the county committee for a political party participating in the primary election may appoint watchers who are either affiliated with that party or unaffiliated. 
  • General (Even-Year) Elections: (C.R.S. 1-7-106)
    • A major or minor political party with a candidate on the ballot (watchers must be affiliated with their political party or unaffiliated.)
    • An unaffiliated candidate on the ballot (watchers must be unaffiliated.)
    • A registered issue committee for or against an issue on the ballot
    • A write-in candidate. 
  • Coordinated (Odd-Year) Elections: (C.R.S. 1-7-107)
    • Candidates for office
    • Proponents and opponents of ballot issues

How to Appoint Watchers

  1. A party chairperson, authorized official, issue committee, or candidate should download Arapahoe County's Watcher Appointment Spreadsheet (Excel) and Certificate of Appointment Template.
  2. Complete this spreadsheet with the names of the poll watchers that you wish to appoint for the upcoming election. Appointments are valid for one calendar year only. Complete the template with the appointing authority’s information and signature.
  3. Return both the spreadsheet and template via email to watchers@arapahoegov.com at least one business day before the watcher plans to observe a Voting Service and Polling Center (VSPC) or Election Facility To the extent possible, please submit names by the close of business on the Friday immediately preceding the election for Election Day watchers.
  4. We will verify the voter registration for each poll watcher name, create a Certificate of Appointment and Oath of Watcher for each qualified name, and return the certificates to you via email. Please watch your email for these certificates. 
  5. If you did not include a signature on the template,you must print and sign the Appointment of Watcher as the certifying individual.
  6. You may then distribute each certificate to the respective poll watcher. 
  7. The watcher must print the and bring the certificate with them to the VSPC or Election Facility where they plan to observe. (Only one copy is needed; the poll watcher does need to surrender his/her certificate at the location.) They will sign the Oath at the VSPC or Election Facility witnessed by the election official checking them in.
Fingers type on a white keyboard sitting on a black desk

Watcher Training

Individuals interested in serving as a watcher are strongly encouraged to complete the Colorado Secretary of State's online Watcher Training Course before being appointed.

This course is required under Colorado Election Rules in order for a watcher to observe activities where voters’ confidential or personally identifying information is within view. This includes viewing the voter registration system, or any other paper or electronic documentation that shows a voter’s signature, date of birth, driver’s license number or Social Security Number.

What to Bring as a Watcher

Bring the Certificate of Appointment/Oath of Watcher and a copy of your Certificate of Watcher Training Completion (if applicable) with you to the polling location or election facility where you plan to observe. One copy of each is sufficient. You do not need to surrender these certificates. 

Remember to sign the Certificate of Appointment/Oath of Watcher. at the location when you check in with the elections official.

If you leave a location but return to the same location, you do not need to present another Certificate of Appointment. However, the Certificate of Appointment is not transferable to another person.

Watcher Guidelines
A Watcher MAY:
  • Be present in the VSPC or Election Facility daily from the time that judges arrive until it closes in the evening, including observing setup and breakdown of the VSPC.
  • Speak only with the Supervisor Judge at a VSPC or Watcher Contact  at the Election Facility.
  • Observe voting activities from at least 6 feet away from any voting booth, voting equipment or ballot box.
  • Use a cell phone or other electronic device ONLY in areas inside the VSPC or Election Facility where voters’ personally identifiable information or confidential information is not within view.
  • Hear election discussions between election judges and voters.
  • Observe voter check-in and registration activities at a VSPC at a distance where personally identifiable information is visible if they have completed the SOS Election Watcher Training Course and presented a Certificate of Completion for the training.
  • Observe signature verification of ballot envelopes at a distance close enough to challenge the signature if they have completed the SOS Election Watcher Training Course and presented a Certificate of Completion.
  • Challenge a voter’s right to vote based on citizenship, residence or age and submit a Voter Challenge Form. (Oral challenges are not permitted.)
  • Challenge a signature verification at the Elections Facility by presenting a challenge card (provided by the County) to the Signature Verification judge and supervisor.
  • Track the names of electors who have cast ballots by using previously obtained voter lists. Arapahoe County makes updated turnout lists available every business day at www.arapahoevotes.com/voter-lists/
A Watcher May NOT:
  • Refuse to have their temperature taken upon arrival, wear a mask, or follow other public health requirements inside the VSPC or Election Facility, including social distancing guidelines.
  • Interfere or disrupt the orderly process and conduct of any election process.
  • Interact with or speak to any election judges except for the Supervisor Judge or Watcher Contact.
  • Speak to voters.
  • Make or receive a phone call inside the VSPC or where election activities are conducted.
  • Take or record pictures, video, or audio while inside the VSPC or Election Facility.
  • Handle  signature cards, ballots, mail ballot envelopes, provisional ballot envelopes, voting or counting machines, or machine components.
  • Observe activities at a distance close enough to view voter’s personally identifiable information or signatures if they have not completed the SOS Election Watcher Training Course and presented a Certificate of Completion.
  • Write down any ballot numbers or any other identifying information about the electors.
  • Attempt to determine how any elector voted.
  • Observe display screens of voting equipment at any time that a voter is in the voting booth.
  • Engage in electioneering.
  • Disclose any results before the polls have closed.
  • Violate any election laws, rules or their oath; or commit or encourage fraud in connection with their duties.
A Watcher May Be Removed If:
  • Refuse to follow county public health precautions or violate any rules or directions of staff regarding health and safety of voters, election staff, and judges;
  • Fraud is committed or encouraged in connection with his/her duties;
  • Violated any of the limitations outlined above;
  • Violated his/her oath or was abusive or threatening toward election officials or voters.

A removed Watcher may be replaced by his/her appointing authority.