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NC poll observers allowed to watch, but cannot talk to voters

Inside of a polling place, voters can expect 2 people from each party simply observing what's going on

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — In this election, there is an emphasis on ensuring it is valid and that every voter has a fair chance of having their vote counted.

It is a heated race, and President Donald Trump has called on his supporters to join an "army" of poll watchers to guard against fraud. But in North Carolina, both parties have recruited hundreds of volunteers to observe the voting process.

Inside of a polling place, voters can expect 2 people from each party simply observing what's going on.  These poll observers are not allowed to talk to or even get close to voters. Outside, anyone hoping to see what's happening needs to stay out of a 50-foot buffer around the polling location.

"They're inside the voting location they can see what's going on. They can't see how you vote, and they can't see any confidential data,” said Michael Dickerson, the Elections Director in Mecklenburg County.

RELATED: 22 million Americans already voted in 2020 election, shattering records

Poll observers are watching to see that procedures and rules are followed. Each party can have 2 observers at every polling place. The observers must be registered voters in that county and have "good moral character." They're meant to boost confidence in the integrity of an election, but voters shouldn't even notice they're there. They are not allowed to hand out or wear any campaign materials or intimidate voters. There are long-standing laws against voterintimidation.

“They’re just there to observe. They're not to talk, they're not to contact, they're not to touch. They're not to interfere with anything,” said Dickerson.

After the president's comments at the first debate, there's more attention on poll observers this election, but it's standard practice.

“They’ve been around forever. For my 22 years, we've always had observers at all our locations be it republicans or democrats so there’s nothing new about that,” said Dickerson.

And for those voting by mail, the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections also has a bi-partisan team reviewing the returned envelopes.

“We’ve got 2 checks on all this sort of stuff,” said Dickerson.

A record number of people are casting their ballots early or by mail.

"It was fantastic a weight off of my shoulders,” said Sarah Majewski.

As of Monday, more than 1.4 million people in North Carolina voted. 605,32 by mail and 828,456 people at one of the early voting sites. Countywide, 166,622 voted by Monday. 80,132 people by mail and 86,490 people at one of the 33 early voting sites that opened last Thursday.

RELATED: More than 1 million North Carolinians have already voted in the 2020 election

The numbers, breaking records in the state and Mecklenburg County.

“It’s amazing. We have not had these numbers. We're doubling the numbers that we did in 2016 but keep in mind too, we didn't have a pandemic in 2016,” said Dickerson.

Early voting runs until October 31st, voters can go to any of the 33 locations.

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