International Observers to Monitor U.S. Election for Voter Suppression
Election monitoring is usually something Americans do in other countries, not the other way around. But come next month, several dozen European observers will fan out across the U.S. to detect signs of voter suppression at polling places.
The observers are part of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which counts the United States as a member.
OSCE was prompted to act after several U.S. nonprofits, including The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the American Civil Liberties Union, wrote a letter warning of “a coordinated political effort to disenfranchise millions of Americans—particularly traditionally disenfranchised groups like minorities.”
Conservative groups and Republican politicians have made voter fraud a high priority this year, resulting in controversial laws requiring voter ID and other changes that may exclude many Americans from voting in the presidential election.
Not surprisingly, some Republicans object to the OSCE monitoring U.S. precincts. Catherine Engelbrecht, founder and president of True the Vote, a conservative organization targeting election fraud, told The Hill that foreign monitors have “no jurisdiction over American elections.”
In response, Neil Simon, OSCE’s director of communications for parliamentary assembly, noted that the U.S. has an obligation as a member state to hold free and democratic elections and to allow observers from other OSCE countries to monitor voting. In fact, OSCE observers have monitored U.S. elections regularly since 2002.
The OSCE’s pre-election report noted that “Some 4.1 million citizens that are residents of US territories are not eligible to vote, while some 600,000 citizens of the District of Columbia are only eligible to vote in the presidential election. A further 5.9 million citizens are estimated to be disenfranchised due to a criminal conviction.” In addition about 51 million Americans who are eligible to vote have not registered to do so.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky
To Learn More:
International Monitors at US Polling Spots Draw Criticism from Voter Fraud Groups (by Alexander Bolton, The Hill)
Limited Election Observation Mission United States of America: Interim Report No.1 (OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights) (pdf)
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