On November 6, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe will have dozens of election observers on patrol throughout the United States. Those detailed to Texas, however, risk arrest if they interfere with the polling process — as it would seem some American special interests would like them to do.
It begins with an apparent overreaction by President George W. Bush, but gets perverted by the critics of popular, bipartisan voter protections put in place by elected lawmakers.
After the contentious 2000 presidential election, President Bush invited the OSCE to send observers beginning with the 2002 elections. In 2012, these foreign observers are expected to be working in 15 states. And there are those who seem to want them to observe with an agenda.
A coalition of liberal special interest groups that include the NAACP, ACLU and League of Women Voters sent a letter to the OSCE to ask that the foreign interlopers focus on states that have passed (but not yet enacted) voter ID laws such as Pennsylvania and Texas.
An interim report by the OSCE’s American mission indicates that the seeds of liberal meddling may have found fertile soil. The report calls voter ID initiatives “highly polarized,” and Joao Soares — a Portuguese politician working with the OSCE — says their people “will observe how inclusive the election process is in line with the country’s own laws and international election commitments.”
To recap, groups such as the NAACP — that call plans to protect against voter identity theft “a coordinated political effort to disenfranchise millions of Americans” — want representatives from countries such as Serbia, Kazakhstan and France to intervene in the American electoral process.
Not in Texas.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has written a letter to Ambassador Daan Everts, the head of the OSCE mission in the United States. It is a strongly-worded letter that also has teeth.
Abbott pointed out:
This State has robust election laws that were carefully crafted to protect the integrity of our election system. The Texas Elections Code governs anyone who participates in Texas elections — including representatives of the OSCE.
This means that any OSCE observer in Texas must remain a minimum of 100 feet from the entrance of a polling place. That means no hanging around the voting machines or looking over the shoulders of election officers. Worried that “an unnecessary political agenda may have infected the OSCE’s election monitoring,” Abbott additionally wrote to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, informing her that any observer hanky-panky would have “legal consequences” that include arrest.
The Obama Administration seems to be throwing its support behind the OSCE. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland suggested that the observers “are eligible for immunities” that would prohibit their arrest.
Nonetheless, expressing his concern to the OSCE that the group’s observers may feel inclined to do more than watch, Abbott further noted in this letter to the OSCE:
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. Groups and individuals from outside the United States are not allowed to influence or interfere with the election process in Texas.
Project 21 co-chairman Cherylyn Harley LeBon, a former senior counsel to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, applauds the strong and decisive action of Attorney General Abbott in protecting the integrity of the voting process in Texas.
America is the example of freedom and liberty throughout the entire world. It’s insulting to elected leaders, poll workers and voters when international bureaucrats think they can come here and — based on the assertions of a few radical groups — tell us if our elections are fair.
It remains unclear to me what these people from other countries have to offer us and what value they bring to the process. We see how elections in other countries are rife with fraud, and I don’t think there is anything they can teach us that we don’t already know.
Voter ID laws, something that the OSCE seems to have a keen interest in and may choose to protest on Election Day, is the one easy and clear ways to stop fraud at a busy polling place and ensure the integrity of the process.
Kudos to Attorney General Abbott for standing up for voter ID and for keeping foreign intervention out of a uniquely American process.
middle photo credit: iStockphoto.com