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International monitors at US polling spots draw criticism from voter fraud groups

Wehrwolfen

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International monitors at US polling spots draw criticism from voter fraud groups



By Alexander Bolton
International monitors at US polling spots draw criticism from voter fraud groups - The Hill - covering Congress, Politics, Political Campaigns and Capitol Hill | TheHill.com
10/20/12



United Nations-affiliated election monitors from Europe and central Asia will be at polling places around the U.S. looking for voter suppression activities by conservative groups, a concern raised by civil rights groups during a meeting this week. The intervention has drawn criticism from a prominent conservative-leaning group combating election fraud.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), a United Nations partner on democratization and human rights projects, will deploy 44 observers around the country on Election Day to monitor an array of activities, including potential disputes at polling places.

Liberal-leaning civil rights groups met with representatives from the OSCE this week to raise their fears about what they say are systematic efforts to suppress minority voters likely to vote for President Obama.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the NAACP and the ACLU, among other groups, warned this month in a letter to Daan Everts, a senior official with OSCE, of “a coordinated political effort to disenfranchise millions of Americans — particularly traditionally disenfranchised groups like minorities.”

The request for foreign monitoring of election sites drew a strong rebuke from Catherine Engelbrecht, founder and president of True the Vote, a conservative-leaning group seeking to crack down on election fraud.

“These activist groups sought assistance not from American sources, but from the United Nations,” she said in a statement to The Hill. “The United Nations has no jurisdiction over American elections.”

The observers, from countries such as Germany, France, Serbia, Belarus, Ukraine and Kazakhstan, will observe voting at polling places and other political activity.

“They [will] observe the overall election process, not just the ballot casting,” said Giovanna Maiola, spokeswoman for OSCE. “They are focusing on a number of areas on the state level, including the legal system, election administration, the campaign, the campaign financing [and] new voting technologies used in the different states.”

In a follow-up e-mail, Maiola noted that it is a limited election-observation mission. She said “the OSCE has regularly been invited to observe elections in the United States, in line with OSCE commitments.”

Access of international observers during voting is explicitly allowed in some states such as Missouri, South Dakota, North Dakota and New Mexico.

“State law does not generally provide for international observers,” Maiola said. “However, through our contacts at state and county level in certain states, we managed to secure invitations at local level and we have taken up the offer to observe. Where this is not possible, we will respect the state regulation on this matter and will not observe in precincts on Election Day.”

International observers will follow up on the concerns raised by civil rights groups.


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waltky

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Granny says, "Don't fall fer it - dey promisin' to play nice an' stay outta the way now, but in the end dey'll muck it all up...
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International election observers say they’ll respect U.S. laws
November 2nd, 2012 - For the past decade, international election observers have traveled to the United States to witness how Americans conduct their presidential election.
They are back again this year but officials in the battleground state of Iowa and in Texas have warned that the observers could face criminal charges if they try to show up at polling stations on Tuesday. Observers, however, told CNN it's a tempest in a teapot - they're not going to break the law. "They won't be attempting to go to a polling station and have access where the state laws or the local laws prohibit it. They won't even try," said R. Spencer Oliver, Secretary General of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

Asked about the threats from the two states, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said on Friday the observer team has a duty to comply with the law. "They know that. We have reminded them of that. Our understanding from them is that they fully plan to comply with all U.S. laws," Nuland said. The State Department, Nuland said, has been working with the international observers to put them in direct contact with state authorities "so that they can work out what terms would be acceptable" for observing the elections.

The international group, she noted, has observed elections in the United States since 2002, including "successfully" in Texas in 2008. The parliamentary assembly has more than 100 observers from more than 30 countries in the United States. Observers have been working in 40 states, meeting with election officials, election boards and commissions. The United States is a member of the organization, along with 56 other nations from Europe, Central Asia and North America.

While not part of the United Nations, the OSCE is the world's largest regional security organization. It deals with a wide range of issues, including arms control, human rights, democratization, counter-terrorism and economic and environmental activities. It produces reports on elections that it observes, highlighting how a country adheres to general democratic standards. Those reports have no legal standing. The OSCE's Spencer Oliver told CNN that participating states invite each other to observe their elections "in order to increase transparency."

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Int’l Election Observers Grumble, But Agree Not to Enter U.S. Polling Places Where Law Forbids
November 2, 2012 – The multinational body planning to observe next Tuesday’s elections says its monitors won’t enter polling stations in states where that would be illegal – but adds that laws barring their entry are not in line with America’s international commitments.
A spokesman for the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), the election-monitoring arm of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), told CNSNews.com Thursday its monitors are in the U.S. to observe, not “to break any laws or in any way interfere with the election process.” “In those instances where it is against state law for international observers to enter polling stations, they will comply with the law,” said Thomas Rymer. “At the same time, the lack of access to polling stations for international observers in some states is not in line with the United States’ international commitments, and we have noted this in past final reports issued by observation missions.”

At the invitation of the U.S. government, the ODIHR is deploying 44 observers across the nation, a practice it has following in past national elections since 2002. Another 13-strong team of “international experts” will be based in Washington. Separately, more than 100 other monitors – lawmakers from OSCE member-states – will also be observing the polls. Rymer was responding to queries following a warning by Texas Attorney-General Greg Abbott that any foreign observer who approaches a polling station in the state risks criminal prosecution.

Iowa’s secretary of state, Matt Schultz, has now issued a similar warning. While he welcomed OSCE observers to the state, he said in a statement provided to CNSNews.com, they would not be allowed to gain access to polling stations. “My office met with two delegation representatives last week to discuss Iowa’s election process and it was explained to them that they are not permitted at the polls,” he said. “Iowa law is very specific about who is permitted at polling places, and there is no exception for members of this group.” Under Iowa law, Schultz said, anyone violating the applicable provision is to be arrested on the orders of poll workers.

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