Challenging the Challengers: How Partisan Citizen Observers Contribute to Disenfranchisement and Undermine Election Integrity
Almost every state allows political parties to sponsor and train private citizens to serve as election observers and sometimes even to challenge the eligibility of other private citizens to vote. These partisan citizen observers, referred to in this Note as “PCOs,” have far too often perpetuated the racism, disenfranchisement, and discrimination that already plague our democratic processes. While election observers can play a valuable role in preserving and maintaining the integrity of our elections at all levels, existing regulations do not effectively guard against discriminatory or intimidating PCO behavior. This Note analyzes the social and legal harms that may result from improper and illegal PCO activity and offers solutions to the PCO regime that maintain the benefits of citizen oversight of elections while minimizing the potential for intimidation, discrimination, and voter suppression.