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EDITORIAL: Blue helmets at the ballot box
International inspectors are there to make sure you vote properly
Those who fear that voter fraud will play a corrupting role on Election Day shouldn't worry. The Europeans are coming to save the day.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is sending 44 observers to monitor U.S. election procedures. According to the organization, teams of two will fan out to "follow campaign activities, the work of the election administration and relevant federal and state institutions, implementation of the legislative framework, and the resolution of election disputes." The OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights has been poll watching in the United States since 2002, but its charter was established to promote democratic development in post-Cold War Eastern Europe, not give the international community oversight over the United States.
The OSCE missions since 2002 have been largely unobtrusive, but this year there is a sense that the foreign observers are bringing prejudice with them. OSCE representatives met last spring with American left-wing pressure groups challenging state voter registration laws. Earlier this month the NAACP, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the American Civil Liberties Union sent a letter to OSCE delegation chief Ambassador Daan W. Everts charging there is "a coordinated political effort to disenfranchise millions of Americans -- particularly traditionally disenfranchised groups like minorities, low-income people, women, young people, persons with disabilities, and the elderly." The OSCE said they "took note of the issues they raised" and asked "observers in the field to follow up on them." The OSCE has also come out against voter identification laws, charging they discriminate and suppress voting.
Some state officials object to potentially biased international oversight. Alabama Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard is calling for legislation to require poll watchers in Alabama to hold U.S. citizenship. "If you can't participate in an election in the United States," he said, "and if you can't cast a vote in the United States, you really have no business serving as a poll watcher in an election being held in the United States." Some of the observers are from countries that are not known for upholding the democratic tradition, such as Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. For them an American election should be a learning experience, not an opportunity to intervene in favor of liberal pressure groups.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott was more to the point. In a letter to Ambassador Everts, he said that observers were welcome to "learn more about [Texas'] election processes so they can improve their own democratic systems," but that outsiders "are not allowed to influence or interfere with the election process in Texas." He noted that the "OSCE's representatives are not authorized by Texas law to enter" or to "maintain a presence within 100 feet of a polling place's entrance." If the monitors failed to comply with Texas law, they could face criminal prosecution, he warned.
The OSCE compromises its impartiality by cultivating ties with interest groups so closely aligned to the Democratic Party. If the observers focus on the issues that trouble leftists, their mission is dead on arrival in terms of legitimacy. American voters already have a critically biased and politically partial Justice Department to worry about. The last thing they need is sniping from left-leaning foreigners.
The Washington Times
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