In wake of ‘rigged’ election comments, parties need poll watchers

More poll watchers needed in Travis County. (KXAN Photo)
More poll watchers needed in Travis County. (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — After Trump raised questions about the election process — saying the election could be “rigged” — we wanted to know who looks over the process here in Central Texas.

On both sides of the aisle, if you’re worried there’s going to be funny business at one of the polling locations, you can volunteer to be what’s called a “poll watcher.” Volunteers go to a campaign they’re supporting, a local political party, or a group advocating a certain side on a ballot measure and fill out an application. Then, the day they want to watch over a polling location, they just show up and give it to the local judge working the poll that day, who approves it.

“You’re a gatekeeper of the integrity of the election,” said Michael Morris, who will be one of those judges election day in Travis County.  He’s a Republican, but will work alongside a Democrat to make sure both parties have confidence in the process.

“Whether your side wins or loses, you know that is was a legitimate win or loss,” said Morris.


Williamson Co. Democrats: (512) 864-9900

Williamson Co. Republicans: (512) 863-8481

Travis County Democrats: (512) 477-7500

Travis County Republicans: (512) 302-1776

Hays County Democrats: (512) 392-0840

Hays County Republicans:  (512) 396-8511

But he says there’s a big need for poll watchers, especially this year. After working in more than 30 elections he says, “Under three times, three or fewer times have I seen a poll watcher on site for part of the day.” While every voting location will have party officials, Morris hopes people volunteer and put faith in the electoral process.

The Texas Secretary of State’s office tells us they will have more than 200 inspectors out on election day. They’ll be posted at random polling locations — in addition to any locations where they receive complaints.

Several studies show voter fraud is extremely rare in the US. Two years ago, the Loyola Law School found 31 credible instances of impersonation fraud from 2000 to 2014. That’s out of more than one billion ballots cast.

Here in Texas, Politifact’s analysis of numbers from the Attorney General’s Office show there were 18 cases of voter fraud from 2002 to 2012.

And while these cases don’t happen often, the Fort Worth Star Telegram is reporting the Attorney General’s Office is investigating allegations of voter fraud in Tarrant County. The complaints focus on mail-in ballots, which allow people to vote from home. We reached out to the Attorney General’s Office, but they wouldn’t confirm the investigation.

If you would like to be a poll worker, the state parties and the campaigns recommend you call your local party. Forms can be found at the Texas Secretary of State website. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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