Liberal leaders across America are screaming “voter intimidation” after the State of Texas yanked the welcome mat out from under the feet of election observers from the UN backed OSCE and threatened to arrest any foreign observer who comes within 100 feet of a Texas polling station.
In a strongly worded letter to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbot emphasized that foreign observers “are not authorized by Texas law to enter a polling place.” He added it “may be a criminal offense for OSCE’s representatives to maintain a presence within 100 feet of a polling place’s entrance.”
The State Department has been inviting the OSCE to witness US elections since 2002, prompting several states to pass legislation banning foreign election monitors. The OCSE is a United Nations partner on democratization and human rights projects, and they were invited by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to send officials to observe the 2012 elections.
Janez Lenarčič, the Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), issued the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s angry response to the announcement by the Texas Attorney General:
“The threat of criminal sanctions against [international] observers is unacceptable. The United States, like all countries in the OSCE, has an obligation to invite ODIHR observers to observe its elections.”
The disagreement over the presence of foreign observers in American polling places has been intensified by the dispute over Voter ID laws and the rise of trained citizen groups of poll watchers. The liberal democratic base outraged conservatives when the ACLU, the NAACP, the League of Women Voters, and other progressive organizations held a meeting in April with OSCE officials.
Following the meeting, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights sent a letter to the OSCE pleading for more officials to monitor the November election. The letter voiced strong opposition to all Voter ID laws and claimed Voter ID is used to disenfranchise minorities, the poor, the elderly, and the young. While condemning conservative organizations for sending trained observers to the polling places, the Leadership Conference expressed a belief that foreign observers would protect the integrity of American elections:
“The election observation role of the OSCE buttresses the activities of the federal government and non-governmental organizations and is essential to continuing the effort to make sure that all Americans can exercise their right to vote ‘privately and independently’… Reports that organizations like True the Vote and others are training poll monitors to go into low-income and minority communities to intimidate voters make such monitoring critically important… The presence of OSCE monitors would serve to underscore the importance of protecting voters in these key states.”
Conservatives suggested the OSCE is being used by Obama supporters to attack any organization that does not follow the progressive policies of the Democratic Party. True The Vote, who intend to deploy hundreds of thousands of trained poll watchers to voting stations nationwide, has been singled out for sustained criticism by liberal groups.
Despite the fact that election observers are forbidden by law to interfere in the election in any way and may be removed from the polling station by the police if they do, the left paints a picture of True the Vote poll watchers deliberately obstructing voters.
Although there is no official investigation of True the Vote being conducted by the Senate or the House of Representatives, Elijah Cummings, the ultra progressive Congressman who is one of Obama’s most vocal supporters, demanded a full scale Federal investigation of True The Vote.
Using the power of his position as the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Cummings sent a rather threatening letter to Catherine Engelbrecht, founder and president of True the Vote, demanding she send him all of her organization’s private records including training material, computer databases, lists of affiliated organizations, and the names of vendors. Meanwhile, Representative Cummings has voted against every single effort by his committee to investigate “Fast and Furious” or Attorney General Holder.
Ms. Engelbrecht strongly denies the allegations against her organization. She spoke about the efforts of the group’s volunteers to help assure American voters of an honest election:
“We may surpass a million volunteers or fall short, it will be hard to know. 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… We are not in the business of picking winners or losers, but instead, to ensure that the process is iron-clad. Properly trained, capable poll watchers or workers should offer no indication of their partisan or ideological leanings to voters at the polls.”
While the debate over Voter ID and True The Vote continues, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland tried to defuse the dispute between Texas and the OSCE. On Thursday, Ms. Nuland issued a statement in support of the efforts of the OSCE in which she addressed the legitimacy of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s observer status:
“Since the initial issue with Texas we’ve received a letter, both for Secretary Clinton and one for Texas authorities, from the OSCE assuring us and Texas authorities that the OSCE observers are committed to following all U.S. laws and regulations as they do in any country where they observe elections and they will do so as well in Texas. To my knowledge [Texas] is the only state that came forward and said ‘please reassure us that you’re going to follow our state electoral law.’ And they have now been reassured.”
It was obvious that Texas Attorney General Abbott would not be intimidated by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s demands or the State Department’s condescending tone when he elaborated on his threat to arrest OSCE observers. In his letter to the OSCE, Mr. Abbott delivered a scathing lecture on the American electoral process and the rights of a sovereign nation:
“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. If OSCE members want to learn more about our election processes so they can improve their own democratic systems, we welcome the opportunity to discuss the measures Texas has implemented to protect the integrity of elections. However, groups and individuals from outside the United States are not allowed to influence or interfere with the election process in Texas.”