§ 163-45. Observers; appointment.
(a) The chair of each political party in the county shall have the right to designate two observers to attend each voting place at each primary and election and such observers may, at the option of the designating party chair, be relieved during the day of the primary or election after serving no less than four hours and provided the list required by this section to be filed by each chair contains the names of all persons authorized to represent such chair's political party. The chair of each political party in the county shall have the right to designate 10 additional at-large observers who are residents of that county who may attend any voting place in that county. The chair of each political party in the State shall have the right to designate up to 100 additional at-large observers who are residents of the State who may attend any voting place in the State. The list submitted by the chair of the political party may be amended between the one-stop period under G.S. 163-227.2, 163-227.5, and 163-227.6 and general election day to substitute one or all at-large observers for election day. Not more than two observers from the same political party shall be permitted in the voting enclosure at any time, except that in addition one of the at-large observers from each party may also be in the voting enclosure. This right shall not extend to the chair of a political party during a primary unless that party is participating in the primary. In any election in which an unaffiliated candidate is named on the ballot, the candidate or the candidate's campaign manager shall have the right to appoint two observers for each voting place consistent with the provisions specified herein. Persons appointed as observers by the chair of a county political party must be registered voters of the county for which appointed and must have good moral character. Persons appointed as observers by the chair of a State political party must be registered voters of the State and must have good moral character. No person who is a candidate on the ballot in a primary or election may serve as an observer or runner in that primary or election. Observers shall take no oath of office.
(b) Individuals authorized to appoint observers must submit in writing to the chief judge of each precinct a signed list of the observers appointed for that precinct, except that the list of at-large observers authorized in subsection (a) of this section shall be submitted to the county director of elections. Individuals authorized to appoint observers must, prior to 10:00 A.M. on the fifth day prior to any primary or general election, submit in writing to the chair of the county board of elections two signed copies of a list of observers appointed by them, designating the precinct or at-large status for which each observer is appointed. Before the opening of the voting place on the day of a primary or general election, the chair shall deliver one copy of the list to the chief judge for each affected precinct, except that the list of at-large observers shall be provided by the county director of elections to the chief judge. The chair shall retain the other copy. The chair, or the chief judge and judges for each affected precinct, may for good cause reject any appointee and require that another be appointed. The names of any persons appointed in place of those persons rejected shall be furnished in writing to the chief judge of each affected precinct no later than the time for opening the voting place on the day of any primary or general election, either by the chair of the county board of elections or the person making the substitute appointment.
If party chairs appoint observers at one-stop sites under G.S. 163-227.2, 163-227.5, and 163-227.6, those party chairs shall provide a list of the observers appointed before 10:00 A.M. on the fifth day before the observer is to observe. At-large observers may serve at any one-stop site.
(c) An observer shall do no electioneering at the voting place, and shall in no manner impede the voting process or interfere or communicate with or observe any voter in casting a ballot, but, subject to these restrictions, the chief judge and judges of elections shall permit the observer to make such observation and take such notes as the observer may desire.
(d) Whether or not the observer attends to the polls for the requisite time provided by this section, each observer shall be entitled to obtain at times specified by the State Board of Elections, but not less than three times during election day with the spacing not less than one hour apart, a list of the persons who have voted in the precinct so far in that election day. Counties that use an "authorization to vote document" instead of poll books may comply with the requirement in the previous sentence by permitting each observer to inspect election records so that the observer may create a list of persons who have voted in the precinct so far that election day; each observer shall be entitled to make the inspection at times specified by the State Board of Elections, but not less than three times during election day with the spacing not less than one hour apart.
Instead of having an observer receive the voting list, the county party chair may send a runner to do so, even if an observer has not been appointed for that precinct. The runner may be the precinct party chair or any person named by the county party chair. Each county party chair using runners in an election shall provide to the county board of elections before 10:00 A.M. on the fifth day before election day a list of the runners to be used. That party chair must notify the chair of the county board of elections or the board chair's designee of the names of all runners to be used in each precinct before the runner goes to the precinct. The runner may receive a voter list from the precinct on the same schedule as an observer. Whether obtained by observer or runner, each party is entitled to only one voter list at each of the scheduled times. No runner may enter the voting enclosure except when necessary to announce that runner's presence and to receive the list. The runner must leave immediately after being provided with the list. (1929, c. 164, s. 36; 1953, c. 843; 1955, c. 800; c. 871, s. 7; 1959, c. 616, s. 2; 1963, c. 303, s. 1; 1967, c. 775, s. 1; 1973, c. 793, ss. 14, 94; 1977, c. 453; 1991, c. 727, s. 3; 1993 (Reg. Sess., 1994), c. 762, s. 19; 1995 (Reg. Sess., 1996), c. 688, s. 1; c. 734, s. 4.1; 2005-428, s. 1(a); 2007-391, s. 22; 2008-187, s. 33(a); 2013-381, s. 11.1; 2017-6, s. 3; 2018-144, s. 3.3; 2018-146, s. 3.1(a), (b).)