Minnesota wannabe poll watchers beware

While raising concerns about potential voter fraud, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has called on his supporters to monitor polling places on Election Day.

In Minnesota, there are strict limitations in place for such activity. State law allows for “challengers” but not “poll watchers.”

“Minnesota has quite a few guardrails,” said Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon.

Simon, the state’s top election official, said each political party is allowed to send one person to each polling place. He said those people can challenge someone’s eligibility to vote. Also, a challenge can come from an eligible voter from the same precinct as the voter being challenged.

But Simon said state law requires that challenges must be based on personal knowledge of a voter’s eligibility.

“They can’t be made on the basis of speculation or hunch or a bad vibe or anything else,” he said.

Designated challengers must follow a code of conduct that, among other things, prohibits them from speaking to the voter. They can speak only to an election judge about a challenge. They cannot make lists or take photos.

Other people who want to keep an eye on polling places can do so if they stay at least 100 feet from the building, according to Ramsey County Elections Manager Joe Mansky. He said in the case of public buildings, such as schools, those people must stay off the property.

“As long as they’re the appropriate distance away from our buildings then that’s fine,” Mansky said.

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