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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. 

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
    • Registered agents or designated filing agents for issue committee pro/against measures on the ballot.

How to Appoint Watchers

  1. A county party chairperson, authorized official, issue committee, or candidate should download Arapahoe County's Watcher Appointment Spreadsheet (Excel)

  2. Follow the instructions tab and complete this spreadsheet with appointing authority information and the information for the watchers that you wish to appoint for the upcoming election. Appointments are valid for the upcoming election only.

  3. Return both the spreadsheet and a signature image via email to at least one full business day before the watcher plans to observe at any location. Please submit names by the close of business on the Friday immediately preceding the election for Election Day watchers.

  4. The County will verify the registration/affiliation eligibility for each watcher, create a personalized Certificate of Appointment and Oath of Watcher for each qualified name, and return the certificates via email. Please watch your email for these certificates.

  5. If you did not include a signature image, you must print and sign the Appointment of Watcher as the certifying individual BEFORE distributing to watchers.

  6. You must then distribute each certificate to the respective watcher. A printed version of this completed certificate is the only version that will be accepted when the watcher checks in at a location.

  7. If you appoint watchers to observe drop boxes, you must provide them with an identification badge that states “Official election watcher for (appointing candidate or entity)” in bold-faced type that is clearly legible.

  8. The watcher must print and bring the certificate with them to the location 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 check-in location witnessed by the election official checking them in. Drop box watchers must wear their identification badge at all times during observations.

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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. All watchers are subject to the rules and requirements of Election Rule 8.

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 and to observe at drop box locations. 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 from the appointing authority and a copy of your Certificate of Watcher Training Completion (if applicable) with you to the location where you plan to observe. One copy of each is sufficient. You do not need to surrender these certificates. (Drop box watchers are also required to wear identification badges provided by their appointing authority).

Remember to sign the Oath 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.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Drop box watchers are required to visit the Arapahoe County Clerk’s main office in Littleton to present their Certificate, receive name badge approval, and sign the oath with a Clerk employee before their first scheduled visit to any drop box.

Watcher Guidelines
A Watcher MAY:
  • Speak ONLY with the Supervisor Judge (VSPC) or Watcher Contact (Election Facility).
  • Be present in the VSPC daily, from the time Election Judges arrive until the Center closes in the evening, including observing closing procedures and breakdown of the VSPC. Election Rule 8.10.2
  • Observe voting activities from at least 6 feet away from any voting booth, voting equipment or ballot box. C.R.S. 1-5-503
  • Hear election discussions between Election Judges and electors. Election Rule 8.10.2
  • Observe voter check-in and registration activities or view Personally Identifiable Information (PII) including voters’ names, addresses and signatures ONLY if you have completed the Secretary of State Election Watcher Training Course and presented a Certificate of Completion for the training. Election Rule 8.1.5
  • Challenge a voter’s right to vote based on citizenship, residence or age, and submit a Voter Challenge Form. (Oral challenges are not allowed.) C.R.S. 1-9-201
  • 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 Election Rule 8.12
The Clerk must REVOKE your certificate as a Watcher if you:
  • Interrupt or disrupt the processing, verification, and counting of any ballots or any other stage of the election, including lodging repeated challenges of voters or mail ballots on basis that are not authorized by statute or these Rules after being advised that such basis are not authorized. Election Rule 8.14.1
  • Write down any ballot numbers or any other personally identifying information about the electors. Election Rule 8.14.2
  • Touch or handle the official signature cards, ballots, mail ballot envelopes, provisional ballot envelopes, voting or counting machines, or machine components. Election Rule 8.14.3
  • Interfere with the orderly conduct of any election process, including issuance of ballots, receiving of ballots, and voting or counting of ballots. Election Rule 8.14.4
  • Communicate with election judges about that judge’s duties while that election judge is currently on duty, unless the judge is the designated watcher contact. Election Rule 8.14.5
  • Use a mobile phone or other electronic device to make or receive an audio or video communication in any polling location or other place election activities are conducted. Election Rule 8.14.6
  • Use any electronic device to take or record pictures, video, or audio in any polling location or other place election activities are conducted. Election Rule 8.14.7
  • Have in your open and visible possession any mobile phone or other electronic device while watching election activities where voters’ confidential or personally identifiable information is within view. Election Rule 8.14.8
  • Attempt to determine how any elector voted Election Rule 8.14.9
  • Disclose or record any confidential voter information as defined in section 24-72-204(8), C.R.S., that you may observe. Election Rule 8.14.10
  • Disclose any results before the polls have closed. Election Rule 8.14.11
  • Attempts to intimidate or interfere with an election judge or other election officials during the discharge of that judge or official’s duties. Election Rule 8.14.12
Watchers Will Be Removed For:
  • Electioneering
  • Violating any of the rules outlined above.
  • Violating his/her oath or acting in an abusive or threatening manner toward election officials or voters.

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