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Un To Oversee U.s. Elections


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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 from its human rights office around the country on Election Day to monitor an array of activities, including potential disputes at polling places. It's part of a broader observation mission that will send out an additional 80 to 90 members of parliament from nearly 30 countries.

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.”

Neil Simon, director of communications for the OSCE’s parliamentary assembly, agreed the U.N. does not have jurisdiction over U.S. elections but noted all OSCE member counties, which include the United States, have committed since 1990 to hold free and democratic elections and to allow one another to observe their 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.

“We attended their meeting, we took note of the issued they raised and we asked our observers in the field to follow up on them,” said Maiola.

http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/263141-international-monitors-at-polling-places-draw-criticism-from-voter-fraud-group

Edited by FaIconfansince80
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