An international outfit associated with the controversial United Nations, invited in by various American organizations and authorities, is set to deploy election monitors across the United States for the upcoming November 6 presidential vote. The campaign is supposedly aimed in part at keeping tabs on alleged “voter suppression” efforts by conservatives.
While there have been plenty of legitimate questions raised in recent years about the integrity of U.S. elections, the latest news sparked fierce criticism from a broad range of organizations and activists. Opponents blasted the move as everything from a cheap propaganda stunt to a dangerous harbinger of future developments.
Other critics pointed out that the UN and its affiliates have absolutely no jurisdiction on U.S. soil. Besides, outraged activists said, concerns about American elections should be addressed by domestic authorities through constitutional means — not by international organizations, especially discredited groups with dictatorial regimes as members.
Dozens of election observers with a UN-partner group known as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) will be stationed throughout the country, the outfit said in a statement. The monitors come mostly from Europe and Asia. Among the countries represented are Belarus, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Russia, Serbia, and others not exactly known for their regimes’ human-rights track records or even honest elections.
The “observer” mission, according to a statement released by the OSCE, is to ensure that U.S. elections comply with “international” standards. “They [will] observe the overall election process, not just the ballot casting,” a spokesperson for the OSCE was quoted as saying by The Hill. “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.”
However, multiple news reports and the OSCE itself also confirmed that the monitors would be searching for potential efforts by conservative-leaning groups and jurisdictions to disenfranchise or intimidate voters. Critics of the international monitoring scheme, meanwhile, pointed out that the alleged “voter suppression” schemes being sought out were in reality legitimate and constitutional efforts to prevent election fraud.
The multilateral organization was apparently alerted to the supposed dangers posed by conservatives by a coalition of liberal outfits. OSCE bosses, for instance, received a recent letter from “civil rights” groups like the NAACP and the ACLU warning of a “coordinated political effort to disenfranchise millions of Americans — particularly traditionally disenfranchised groups like minorities.”
Late last year, meanwhile, the NAACP even petitioned the UN about state efforts to prevent voting fraud by requiring voter identification. “It’s been more than a century since we’ve seen such a tidal wave of assaults on the right to vote,” claimed NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous about the scheme.
Representatives with the international organization reportedly even met with the various groups sounding the alarm about conservative efforts to “disenfranchise” voters. “We attended their meeting, we took note of the issues they raised and we asked our observers in the field to follow up on them,” the OSCE spokesperson said.
Still, the monitoring mission promised to respect state law and avoid areas where it was not welcome. Some state and local governments, however, were reportedly eager to have the observers descend on their elections. “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,” the OSCE was quoted as saying, adding that some states have laws specifically permitting international observers.
For Americans concerned about the ongoing Obama administration campaign to stop state-level voter ID laws, the notion that UN-linked “monitors” from nations ruled by tyrants would be summoned to the United States is seen as way out of line. Across the Internet, news about the scheme exploded, drawing swift criticism and even ridicule from analysts.
“These activist groups sought assistance not from American sources, but from the United Nations,” explained President Catherine Engelbrecht with True the Vote, a citizen-led effort to restore the integrity of U.S. elections by preventing fraud. “The United Nations has no jurisdiction over American elections.”
Critics have also pointed out that despite the claims of big government-supporting groups warning about conservatives, most of the recent concerns about voter suppression and fraud have involved far-left, government-funded organizations — often linked to Obama — such as ACORN and its renamed splinter groups. Extremists such as members of the New Black Panther Party were even caught on film during the 2008 elections wearing ludicrous commando costumes and waving weapons around outside of polling places to intimidate conservative voters.
“This is almost comical on its face. Did conservative groups stand outside polling places dressed like Storm Troopers with clubs intimidating voters the way the Black Panthers did in 2008? Are groups who registered illegal aliens and deceased people conservative groups or are they organizations such as ACORN with whom Obama once worked?” political strategist Mike Baker wondered in an interview with the Law Enforcement Examiner. “If anyone is being disenfranchised — a word the far-left loves to use — it’s the American conservative whose vote is canceled-out when an illegal voter casts his or her ballot on Election Day.”
The international election-monitoring campaign will be conducted under the auspices of the OSCE’s so-called “Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights,” the organization said in a press release. Ambassador Daan W. Everts, a Dutch diplomat with years of experience working with and for the UN and its innumerable affiliates, will lead the “mission.”
Despite the unprecedented backlash against the campaign, the OSCE has actually “assessed” U.S. elections for a decade, it said in the statement, saying it began in 2002 under then-President George W. Bush. Its most recent observer mission began on October 4 and will run through Election Day.
“Observers will assess these elections for compliance with international obligations and standards for democratic elections, including the commitments agreed to by all the OSCE participating States, and with national legislation,” the organization explained in a statement put out online. “The mission will analyze the legislative framework and its implementation and will follow campaign activities, the work of the election administration and relevant government bodies, including voter registration, and the resolution of election disputes.”
The OSCE dates back to the early 1970s and was founded as a sort of “forum” for “negotiations” between the mass-murdering communist regimes of the East and “Free World” governments in the West. Since then, however, it has evolved into the self-styled “world’s largest regional security organization” with “permanent institutions and operational capabilities.” Its member governments include Russia, Belarus, Moldova, Uzbekistan, and more than 50 others.
From across the political spectrum, concerns about voter fraud and the integrity of American elections continue to grow louder — especially after a blockbuster HBO documentary exposed how vulnerable electronic voting machines were to tampering. While conservatives accuse liberals of registering dead people and letting illegal immigrants vote, liberals accuse conservatives of trying to “disenfranchise” minorities by forcing people to show ID to vote.
Whatever the merits of the increasingly vociferous allegations, it remains unclear why or even how an international organization affiliated with the UN that includes a wide assortment of unsavory regimes would be able to help. Plus, the American people and their elected state representatives — without any assistance from the UN, Russia, Belarus, or Kazakhstan — are perfectly capable of fixing any real or imagined election problems in a constitutional manner.
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International monitors at US polling spots draw criticism from voter fraud groups
By Alexander Bolton – 10/20/12 12:00 PM ET
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.
The OSCE has 56 participating states from Europe, Central Asia and North America, including the United States and Canada. It has assessed elections in the United States since 2002.
Voting is expected to be more contentious this November than in past years because of a running battle over election law pitting conservative groups and Republican state officials against the Obama administration and liberal allies.
The Obama campaign scored a victory this week when the Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal filed by Republican officials in Ohio seeking to limit the state’s early voting program.
Last month in Wisconsin, the state Supreme Court declined to immediately review lower-court rulings invalidating a voter-identification law signed by Republican Gov. Scott Walker.
In Florida, judges stopped attempts to restrict voter-registration drives but allowed measures to reduce days of early voting and to remove non-citizens from voting rolls to stand.
Both sides expect wrangling over voter identification and eligibility to extend to polling places and are recruiting armies of volunteers for Election-Day showdowns.
True the Vote, a group with Tea Party origins, has an ambitious plan to deploy hundreds of thousands of volunteers at polling stations to monitor election fraud.
“We may surpass a million volunteers or fall short, it will be hard to know,” said Engelbrecht. “But we’re very excited about the level of enthusiasm, the number of volunteers, and the fact that we had a positive impact in bringing awareness to this important issue, of election integrity.”
Democratic allies will counter with their own forces. The AFL-CIO will dispatch 300 lawyers to monitor poll workers and third-party groups challenging voter registration.
The Advancement Project, a self-described multi-racial civil rights organization, will send more than 3,000 poll watchers to battleground states.
The Election Protection coalition, which includes Democratic allies such as the Sierra Club, Service Employees International Union and People for the American Way, plans to recruit 8,000 to 10,000 volunteers to cover 80 cities and counties.
“We hope that all groups that are putting people at a polling place, that they should follow the law and they should be there to make sure that responsible Americans who wish to participate in our democracy are able to free of intimidation,” said Eric Marshall, co-leader of Election Protection.
Civil rights groups have complained about what they say are subtle efforts of intimidation. They point to a billboard campaign in swing states such as Ohio warning voter fraud is a felony punishable by up to three and a half years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Engelbrecht of True the Vote says intimidation is not her group’s motive.
“We are not in the business of picking winners or losers, but instead, to ensure that the process is iron-clad,” she said. “Properly trained a capable poll watchers or workers should offer no indication of their partisan or ideological leanings to voters at the polls.”
This story was updated Oct. 21 at 4:26 p.m.
Read the original article here.