Qualifications of a Watcher#
“Watcher” shall mean a registered elector of the City of Fort Collins whose name has been submitted to the City Clerk for the purpose of viewing election activities occurring at the City’s polling place, the ballot processing center, or the tabulation center.
A Watcher must be selected by:
- a candidate for City Council or Mayor, or
- a person designated by either the opponents/proponents in the case of a ballot issue or ballot question.
The City Clerk will verify that the individual whose name has been submitted to be a Watcher is a registered elector of the City of Fort Collins and that the individual has, in fact, been selected by a candidate for City Council or Mayor or has been designated by either the opponents or proponents of a ballot issue or ballot question. Upon verification, the City Clerk will notify the individual whether they have been authorized to be a Watcher together with any other pertinent details.
The City Clerk will provide a list of Watchers who meet the above requirements for each location (polling place, ballot processing center, or tabulation center) so election workers and staff will know the Watcher has been through the verification process and has the right to remain inside the designated location, while open to the public. Watchers in the tabulation center will be allowed to remain until tabulation of the votes cast at the election is completed on election day.
Candidates or interested parties shall certify the names of the person selected to the City Clerk on forms provided by the City Clerk. If a Watcher must leave the area they have been authorized to view, he/she may designate an alternate to act on his/her behalf while he/she is absent. The alternate must have gone through the verification process with the City Clerk. The Watcher should let the City Clerk, or her designee, know that an alternate Watcher will be stepping in. A Certificate of Appointment and Oath of Watcher form must be provided to the City Clerk by the alternate Watcher. The City Clerk will check to ensure that the alternate Watcher has been verified and, if so, will update the list of Watchers for the benefit of election workers and staff. [See also the section on Replacement Workers].
Watchers cannot be a candidate or a family member of the candidate by blood, marriage, or civil union in the second degree.
An appointed person can serve as a Watcher for more than one candidate. However, the Watcher must obtain a Certificate of Appointment and Oath of Watcher for each candidate for whom he/she will be watching, and he/she must submit all certificates to the City Clerk’s office and be verified by the City Clerk.
Requirements of a Watcher#
The issue committee, the candidate or the write-in candidate shall:
- Certify the names of one or more persons selected as Watchers on the Certificate of Appointment and Oath of Watcher form provided by the City Clerk.
- Submit the Certificate of Appointment and Oath of Watcher forms to the City Clerk to the extent possible by the close of business 18 days preceding the date of the election for verification.
Watchers need to present themselves as Watchers and must present their Certificate of Appointment to the City Clerk, or her designee, on duty at the location. Only one Watcher per candidate and/or issue committee, per location (described below), will be allowed.
Each Watcher shall take an oath and shall, upon first entering the polling place, ballot processing center, or tabulation center, submit to their election official the Certificate of Appointment & Oath of Watcher form.
Political committees are not allowed to designated Watchers.
Documents a Watcher can Review#
To assist Watchers in performing their tasks, the City Clerk, or her designee, shall provide a copy of the electronic poll book on scheduled release dates. Watchers may maintain a list of eligible electors who have voted by utilizing only that information provided by the City Clerk, or her designee. A request to receive the electronic poll book must be made 24 hours in advance of a particular release date, or, if wanting every release, 24 hours prior to the first release date.
Processes a Watcher can Observe#
Watchers may observe, from the designated area for access, all activities within the election location, including voter registration, in-person voting, and the issuance, receipt, processing and counting of mail ballots.
Expected Conduct of a Watcher#
Watchers may observe election workers but may not interrupt or disrupt the orderly process and conduct of any election, including ballot issuance, receiving of ballots, voting, processing, verification, and counting of any ballots or any other stage of the election. There will be designated seating areas for Watchers. No Watchers are allowed to wander outside of the designated seating areas, into areas where election activities are occurring, without permission and escort by the City Clerk, or her designee.
- The City Clerk (or designee) may provide copies of the electronic poll book to Watchers on scheduled release dates. A request for the poll book should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Watchers may track the names of electors who have cast ballots by utilizing their previously obtained copies of the electronic poll book.
- Watchers may not touch or handle ballots, mail ballot envelopes, counting machines, or machine components.
- Watchers may only interact with the City Clerk or designee.
- Watchers must turn off mobile phones or other electronic devices in ballot processing center or any other place where election activities are conducted. If a phone rings or an audible message indicator is heard, the Watcher will be required to leave. One warning may be given but is not required.
- Watchers may not disclose any results before the results have been posted online.
- Watchers shall not electioneer for any candidate or measure while acting as a Watcher or within 100 feet of any location where election activities are occurring.
Locations a Watcher can Visit#
A Watcher may be certified to visit more than one location (such as the ballot processing center or the City Clerk’s Office, where replacement ballots are issued).
For the 2021 Election, Watchers may observe activities at:
- City Hall, 300 LaPorte Avenue, Fort Collins, Colorado, the only designated polling place in the City (March 22 through April 6);
- Lincoln Center, 417 W. Magnolia Street, Canyon West Ballroom, where ballot processing will occur (March 29 through April 6); and
- Lincoln Center, 417 W. Magnolia Street, Columbine Room, where ballot tabulation will occur (April 6 only).
If a Watcher leaves any of the observation areas and the same Watcher returns later in the day, another Certificate of Appointment is not necessary and shall not be required. The original Certificate of Appointment will suffice. A Watcher will have to check in and check out accordingly.
If a Watcher is replaced during the day, the Watcher replacing the original Watcher must have an original Certificate of Appointment. The Certificate of Appointment as a Watcher is not transferable to another individual. Replacement Watchers will also be required to be verified by the City Clerk (see requirements on Page 1) and to check in and check out accordingly.
Sample “Certificate of Appointment and Oath of Watcher” can be found here.