A Challenger is a person who is appointed by a candidate, political party chair (Democrat or Republican), or proponent or opponent of a public referendum. A candidate in the election may also act as a challenger on behalf of him or herself. A challenger is permitted by law to observe the voting process in a polling place or at the location where mail-in ballots are counted (the board of election office) and can challenge a voter’s right to vote or the validity of a mail-in ballot. N.J.S.A. 19:7-1, et seq.; N.J.S.A. 19:7-2; N.J.S.A. 19:7-3; N.J.S.A. 19:7-5.
No later than two weeks before the election, appointment papers must be filed with the county board of election and must list the name of each challenger and the corresponding assigned election district(s). N.J.S.A. 19:7-3.
On election day, challengers should be seated at the table that is set up for them by the District Board (Poll Workers). Any questions or objections a challenger may have must be given to the District Board Worker, not the voter.
Challenger Do’s and Dont’s:
- Listen to the names of the voters who present themselves to the District Board Workers to vote
- If a challenger knows, suspects or reasonably believes that a voter is not qualified to vote, the challenger can challenge the voter’s right to vote. The challenger must assert the challenge before the voter votes. The district board must ask the challenger why he or she is challenging the voter (for example, a challenger may claim that the voter moved out of State before election day) and require the challenger to sign a challenger affidavit. The voter must also sign an affidavit and may have to show the district board an identifying document. The board must then vote on the challenge. A tie vote works in favor of the voter. N.J.S.A. 19:15-18.2 and N.J.S.A. 19:15-24.
- challenge any voter on the basis of race, ethnicity, expected manner of voting, or the location of the voter’s actual residence in a housing complex, ward or other part of town or county (N.J.S.A. 19:15-18);
- sit with the district board workers;
- stand over the district board workers;
- touch any election materials;
- go to the voting machine during the voting hours;
- challenge the voter directly;
- participate in the signature comparison process, which is the exclusive responsibility of the board worker;
- harass or intimidate voters or cause any disturbance in the polling place. N.J.S.A. 19:34-29;
- wear any campaign insignia whatsoever. This includes buttons or any clothing with indicia relating to any candidate, a political party or referendum. N.J.S.A. 19:34-15;
- decline, refuse or neglect to wear the challenger badge or fail to present the challenger credentials to the district board upon arrival at the polling place. N.J.S.A. 19:7-6.