Texas, international election monitors face off
October 25th, 2012
06:24 PM ET
1 year ago

Texas, international election monitors face off

Washington (CNN) – The presence of international monitors observing next week's presidential and Congressional election has caused a firestorm among voter ID law supporters and, particularly, the Texas attorney general.

The reservations came after the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) announced it is sending dozens of monitors from around the world to monitor the upcoming presidential and Congressional elections.

– Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

– Check out the CNN Electoral Map and Calculator and game out your own strategy for November.

The OSCE, which sends monitoring teams to elections around the world, has been observing U.S. elections since 2002, when the Bush administration invited them after the hotly contested 2000 presidential election. They are expected to observe in 15 states on November 6th.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott Thursday wrote a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressing his displeasure with the OSCE's approach, stating that "an unnecessary political agenda may have infected OSCE's election monitoring." Texas law, he notes, does not allow "unauthorized individuals" within 100 feet of polling places. He asked Clinton to work with the OSCE to ensure the group abides by the state law or they will risk "legal consequences."

OSCE's team for the U.S. elections has 13 international experts based in Washington D.C. and 44 long-term observers to be deployed throughout the country. The OSCE called it "the largest Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe parliamentary delegation to ever observe a North American election."

"We are not coming to judge a result but to report about the process," said Joao Soares, a Portuguese member of parliament who is helping coordinate monitoring effort, in a statement on the group's website. "In a country so well-known for its diverse citizenry, we will observe how inclusive the election process is in line with the country's own laws and international election commitments."

The monitoring team issued an interim report last week warning "recent state-level legislative initiatives to limit early voting and introduce stricter voter identification have become highly polarized. Democrats are concerned that these would disenfranchise eligible voters, while Republicans believe they are necessary to protect the integrity of the vote."

This week a group of civil rights groups, including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the League of Women Voters, sent a letter to Daan Evarts, head of the OSCE mission, urging him to send monitors to states where voter ID laws and early voting restrictions "voting have been most extensive-Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, Texas and Wisconsin."

The letter also urged Everts to send monitors to Colorado, North Carolina and Virginia. Most of these are considered battleground states in the presidential election.

In a letter to Everts, Texas Attorney General Abbott noted the OSCE identified voter ID laws as a barrier to the right to vote and is being urged by voter ID opponents "to monitor states that have taken steps to protect ballot integrity by enacting voter ID laws."

"The OSCE may be entitled to its opinions about voter ID laws, but your opinion is legally irrelevant in the United States, where the Supreme Court has already determined that voter ID laws are constitutional," Abbott wrote. "Groups and individuals from outside the United States are not allowed to influence or interfere with the election process in Texas."

In addition to visiting polling stations on Election Day, the OSCE monitors have already met with federal, state and local officials and candidates since starting their work earlier this month, according to the Vienna-based agency.

But in his letter to Everts, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott warned OSCE representatives are not authorized by Texas law to enter a polling place and then stated they could face criminal prosecution for coming within 100 feet of a polling place.

State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland said Texas was the only state to her knowledge that came forward with reservations, but that the OSCE has since sent a letter, both to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and to Texas authorities reassuring them that "OSCE observers are committed to following all U.S. laws and regulations as they do in any country where they observe elections."

But Janez Lenarčič, the Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights which oversees election monitoring, also shared his concerns about Abbot's threats in his letter to Clinton.

"The threat of criminal sanctions against OSCE/ODIHR observers is unacceptable," Lenarčič said. "The United States, like all countries in the OSCE, has an obligation to invite ODIHR observers to observe its elections."

He called concerns that election observers would interfere with the election process "groundless" and stressed OSCE observers adhere to all national laws of the countries whose elections they are monitoring.

"Our observers are required to remain strictly impartial and not to intervene in the voting process in any way," Lenarčič said. "They are in the United States to observe these elections, not to interfere in them."

Also on the CNN Political Ticker

– McCain says Mourdock endorsement up in the air

– Obama: The 'other guy' is a 'bulls**ter'

– Romney beats back on 'horses and bayonets'

– Obama's Facebook warning


Filed under: 2012 • Texas
soundoff (346 Responses)
  1. dan

    Of course, Texas.

    October 25, 2012 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  2. Ben

    And what COULD they observe? Any fraud will take place in the 1s and 0s within the voting machines. Surely they won't be allowed to investigate the machines before, during, and after voting to ensure no tampering or fixing has taken place, which is the only concern we really have.

    October 25, 2012 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  3. OldeWhyteMann

    What is Abbot so worried about?

    October 25, 2012 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  4. maltesefalconx9

    Well, the next time they have an election in ...ah ... Syria, you know what you Southern war-mongers can do.

    October 25, 2012 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  5. Trevor

    All elections in the United States are purely under the authority of each of the 50 sovereign states. That means that President Bush had no authority whatsoever to invite these globalist goons to monitor any state election, that would be under the authority of the states. Texas has every right to send these twerps packing.

    October 25, 2012 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  6. bolden

    The UN set them here to make sure the 'son of Africa' wins. Just like the New B l a c k Panthers.

    October 25, 2012 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  7. AceGirlshusband

    I think it would be rather funny if Texas authorities jailed 13 international "monitors" for violating Texas election law. GO TEXAS! Hook 'em, Horns!

    October 25, 2012 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  8. Edwin

    Sometimes I am disgusted that Texas is a part of the United States.

    October 25, 2012 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  9. Heidi

    What does Texas have to hide? International moniters are there to verify the process to the world. So I repeat what is there to hide?

    October 25, 2012 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  10. z

    Texas should -welcome- the monitors to see how direct and law-abiding they are.

    October 25, 2012 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  11. Dan

    Too late.Texas has been a mess for a very long time.

    October 25, 2012 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  12. francis francis

    There's something a little strange about this Romney guy.Does a real man say"gosh"?Theres more in his closet than those tax returns.

    October 25, 2012 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  13. jimmyjones

    Dear Texas, Get over yourself!

    October 25, 2012 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  14. Globalist_GO_home

    GO TO IRAN if you want something to do but stay the freak out of OUR country.

    October 25, 2012 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  15. Jeff Cox

    Leave it to Texas.

    October 25, 2012 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  16. maltesefalconx9

    "unnecessary political agenda" – that's it exactly. Why doesn't Texas just mind their own damn binness. Know what I mean? If an election in Venezuela, or Iran, or Russia doesn't go the way Texas oil companies planned, why don't ya' all just mind ya own damn binness. Then we can save a few trillion dollars on them wars. Yeah!

    October 25, 2012 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  17. NewsRaider

    "The threat of criminal sanctions against OSCE/ODIHR observers is unacceptable," Lenarčič said. "The United States, like all countries in the OSCE, has an obligation to invite ODIHR observers to observe its elections."

    Come to Texas and break the law and see what happens.

    October 25, 2012 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  18. fekt

    sounds like someone has something to hide. isn't that how it goes. if you got nothing to hide then what's the problem? i believe i heard that over and over for years. instead of taking it as an instult to your honor (texas), use this chance to show you conduct yourself honorably. or whine like a petulant child hiding something. your choice.

    October 25, 2012 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  19. Rick

    I can't figure out what they would have to hide?LOL

    October 25, 2012 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  20. Joe Plumber

    In-person voter fraud is a fraud. There are more phony absentee ballots than anything else. And even that number is less than 500 since 2000.

    October 25, 2012 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  21. Stephen in VA

    Oh, who cares? Texas is hardly a swing state. The Republican candidate is gonna carry Texas whether he gets the most votes or not.

    October 25, 2012 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  22. i2hellfire

    texas, monopolizing stupidity for twelve years running.

    October 25, 2012 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  23. CB

    Why does a European organization have to come here and monitor our elections? Is this part of the New World Order that everyone keeps talking about? How can our government allow this? Good for Texas. More states should take the same stance. I hope the first two things that Romneyy does is to cut all Washington salaries by 1/2 and stop paying the UN, the most worthless organization on the globe.

    October 25, 2012 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  24. Tom H.

    Texas. - of course!

    October 25, 2012 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  25. J

    Keep your foreign rears away from Philly or the New Black Panthers will beat you with tire irons, and Eric Holder will refuse to prosecute them for it

    October 25, 2012 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14