Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is encouraging his supporters to keep an eye out for possible voting fraud on Election Day.
In most states, including Illinois, poll watchers are required to get credentials from the State Board of Elections or local election authorities. “Somebody just can’t show up at the polling place (and say,) ‘I want to be a poll watcher. I want to watch.’ You can’t do that. You have to have credentials,” says Jim Tenuto, assistant executive director of the Illinois State Board of Elections.
Tenuto says that poll watchers come in early to see how things are set up. They observe throughout the day and stick around to keep an eye on the vote counting process. Poll watchers can raise a red flag if they think somebody is trying to commit fraud.
“They could challenge a person’s right to vote, obviously in a polite way. They may say, ‘oh by the way, I think this person was here earlier in the morning. He’s coming back a second time,’” Tenuto says. “If there is a challenge up, the judge will make the decision as to whether to sustain or overrule that challenge.”
Tenuto says there are several layers of protection against election fraud in Illinois. He says widespread fraud would be nearly impossible to pull off. “It would be very difficult to do something like that. So we just want people to relax and go out and vote. Or even early vote.”
Early voting continues through today. Even if you haven't registered, it's not too late to register and vote in Illinois. Grace period and Election Day registration are still available. For more information, and to find your polling place or early voting location, see the State Board of Election’s website.