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Do We Need Foreign Observers for the Elections?

 
 
Noddy24
 
Reply Sat 23 Oct, 2004 01:20 pm
By Betsy Pisik
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Published October 7, 2004

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NEW YORK -- A 55-nation body charged with overseeing fair elections and human rights in its member states expects to send as many as 100 monitors to observe the U.S. elections on Nov. 2, saying numerous "weaknesses and vulnerabilities" might delay the outcome or even compromise the results.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) explained its decision to send teams of professional foreign observers to the United States to watch the voting, saying irregularities with voting machines and procedures could jeopardize public confidence.
Although the State Department formally invited the OSCE to observe, its decision has touched a raw nerve within the Bush administration and in some congressional offices.
"Maybe they need a Florida vacation," sneered one senior administration official, who said the State Department had no choice but to invite the OSCE monitors after it received complaints from a dozen Democratic lawmakers.
The Vienna, Austria-based OSCE last week issued a list of concerns about the Nov. 2 elections, including the possibility of voter intimidation, incorrectly purged voter rolls, irregularities in voting machines and a complex web of voting procedures that vary within and among states.
Specifically, the commission noted that funds and safeguards authorized in the 2002 Help America Vote Act (HAVA) have been delayed, and that its impact on the upcoming vote "may fall short of expectations."
A logistical advance team will arrive from Austria as soon as next week to clear the way for the roughly 100 foreign monitors expected to fan out at the end of October.
Rep. Christopher H. Smith, New Jersey Republican and chairman of the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also called the Helsinki Commission, said he had no problems with foreign election observers.
"I welcome them," he said last week. "We have nothing to hide, and if we have a flaw, we want to fix it." He said the experience could be "like a classroom" for monitors from other nations.
But Mr. Smith added, "Given the resources they have, I hope that resources are not misspent."
He said he was concerned that the OSCE could be squandering resources that would be spent more fruitfully on elections in Afghanistan on Saturday, Belarus on Oct. 17, Ukraine on Oct. 31 and other countries.
The cost of the observer mission is not borne directly by the OSCE, but by the home governments of the individual observers, who volunteer for the mission, so the United States will not be asked to contribute to the Nov. 2 mission.
OSCE spokeswoman Urdur Gunnarsdottir said yesterday that the commission had put out a request for observers for the U.S. election, but it was too soon to know which nations would contribute or how many observers would be deployed.
"It's not dangerous, but it is a very expensive undertaking," Ms. Gunnarsdottir said of the airfare and expenses related to a U.S. mission.
The OSCE, founded in 1975, comprises 55 Central Asian, European and North American nations. Members have signed on to the Copenhagen Document, which obliges them to abide by agreed standards regarding human rights, electoral fairness and transparency.
Countries whose voting practices were monitored by the OSCE this year include established democracies such as Greece, Canada, Spain, Iceland and France, as well as several developing democracies.
In each case, the sitting government invited OSCE monitors, and the chairman, Bulgarian Foreign Minister Solomon Passy, accepted.
The mission for the Nov. 2 U.S. elections will be led by OSCE Vice President Barbara Haering of Switzerland.
About 100 monitors from OSCE member states will fan out to state capitals and polling places where complaints have been lodged. That list is not final, according to OSCE.
Specific concerns mentioned in the commission's 12-page report, based on a mid-September visit, included:
•Delays in distributing $3.8 billion authorized by HAVA in 2002 mean that few of its reforms have been implemented.
•Many states have invested in voting machines that do not allow for audit or manual recount.
•The risk of coercion of absentee voters and unauthorized proxy voting "cannot be excluded."
•Some states allow absentee ballots to be faxed, which violates OSCE standards about secrecy.
•Voting methods vary among and within states.
•The purging of ex-felons from voting rolls also might de-register some people with no criminal record.
•An "enhanced police presence" at polls might intimidate minorities.
Such shortcomings "may cause post-election disputes and litigation, potentially delaying the announcement of final results," said the report, which noted that Democratic legislators interviewed were far more concerned than their Republican counterparts.
This is not the first time that the OSCE has monitored U.S. elections. Observers were deployed to Florida and other states for the 2002 midterm elections and to California for last year's gubernatorial recall. But those efforts generated little stir.




Copyright © 2004 News World Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 6,873 • Replies: 101
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Oct, 2004 01:39 pm
Re: Do We Need Foreign Observers for the Elections?
Noddy24 wrote:
OSCE spokeswoman Urdur Gunnarsdottir said yesterday that the commission had put out a request for observers for the U.S. election, but it was too soon to know which nations would contribute or how many observers would be deployed.


Quote:
Mission at a glance
Head of Mission: Ms. Rita Süssmuth* (Germany)
- 10 core staff in Washington
- 75 short-term observers requested
- core-team staff drawn from six OSCE participating States

Source

Professor Dr. Rita Süssmuth (University of Göttingen), former Speaker of the Bundestag (Bundestagspräsidentin) and Chair of the Independent German Council of Experts on Migration and Integration, CDU (Christian Democratic Union = conservative party)
0 Replies
 
Noddy24
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Oct, 2004 01:55 pm
Walter--

Thanks for the update.
0 Replies
 
Acquiunk
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Oct, 2004 01:58 pm
Given the image of this administration, and the fiasco of the last presidential election, foreign observers can't hurt. Besides which, if we are willing to subject out electoral process to international public scrutiny, that can only enhance our image as a democracy.
0 Replies
 
panzade
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Oct, 2004 02:54 pm
Florida has banned the comission from it's voting precincts.There is still some hope by the members that the ban will be rescinded.
0 Replies
 
Merry Andrew
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Oct, 2004 02:58 pm
To answer the question in your headline, Noddy -- "Unfortunately, yes, we do."
0 Replies
 
au1929
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Oct, 2004 03:00 pm
It could be quite embarrasing. Embarrassed They may discover that our procedures mimic those of a banana republic. Sad
0 Replies
 
Baldimo
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Oct, 2004 05:09 pm
Only if the democrats continue to let dead people and illegal immigrants vote. Smile
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Oct, 2004 05:18 pm
Why not? (Foreign observers, I mean).

We had a team of observers sent to the last Dutch elections, from a variety of countries - dont remember at which organisation's initiative. They came up with some interesting observations, some of them critical, others appreciative. Learning experience for both sides.
0 Replies
 
cannistershot
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Oct, 2004 07:52 pm
nimh wrote:
Why not? (Foreign observers, I mean).

We had a team of observers sent to the last Dutch elections, from a variety of countries - dont remember at which organisation's initiative. They came up with some interesting observations, some of them critical, others appreciative. Learning experience for both sides.


I agree, why not ?
0 Replies
 
Armyvet35
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Oct, 2004 09:15 pm
And it begins....
0 Replies
 
Noddy24
 
  1  
Reply Sun 24 Oct, 2004 10:30 am
Across the country, the Democrats are watching the Republicans and the Republicans are watching the Democrats.....why not throw in a few foreign observers to be educated in grass roots politics in an electronic age.
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Sun 24 Oct, 2004 10:47 am
We need all the help we can get.
0 Replies
 
Acquiunk
 
  1  
Reply Sun 24 Oct, 2004 10:54 am
As far as I'm concerned anyone who wishes too can watch this election. But I would recommend they keep stress reducing medication handy, and take periodic times outs for a reality check.
0 Replies
 
Xena
 
  1  
Reply Sun 24 Oct, 2004 10:58 am
The reason they were asked to come was not because it would be a "learning experience". I may not have been opposed to it if that was the case. The request came from the side that still claims the Florida 2000 election was stolen.

There have been fraud on both sides, but the Dems seem to come out ahead when it comes to shady tactics.

Yesterday from the Kerry/Edwards campaign and the Democratic National Committee advising Democrats that they should claim that there was voter intimidation, even if there was none. There have been claims voter intimidation and "disenfranchisement" since the 2000 election, despite the fact that there no proof that such intimidation ever took place and the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, given six months, couldn't find one single qualified registered voter who was turned away from the polls.

In a Drudge exclusive, the 66-page Democratic mobilization plan says "If no signs of intimidation techniques have emerged yet, launch a 'pre-emptive strike.'" The 'Election Day Manual' goes on to say that operatives should issue a press release and call out the race warlords to discuss the mythical "voter intimidation" in the press. It also says talking points should be provided to the "minority leadership." The official position of the Democratic Party says even if there is no voter intimidation occurring, they should make some up. They are telling people to lie and to slander Republicans. If Kerry should lose on November 2nd. there will be a huge cry of "I told you so!" from the Democrats ... and the lawsuits will fly.

One more thing. Studies of the 2000 election in Florida show that the vast majority of the problems there were caused by people who were not bright enough to figure out a simple punch-card ballot. Democrats were in charge of the election process in 24 of the 25 Florida counties in which these problems emerged. This means that the bulk of the people who lacked the limited amount of intelligence necessary to figure out how to punch a hole through a card were living in Democrat controlled counties in Florida.

No matter who wins this election is going to go through the same embarressing recount like in 2000.
0 Replies
 
Acquiunk
 
  1  
Reply Sun 24 Oct, 2004 11:11 am
Xena, you exemplify why the medication is needed.
0 Replies
 
panzade
 
  1  
Reply Sun 24 Oct, 2004 11:12 am
Being the lightning rod for the conservatives can do that.
0 Replies
 
JustWonders
 
  1  
Reply Sun 24 Oct, 2004 11:52 am
Not exactly a comment on "observance" of US elections, but I thought this was interesting.


Quote:
"But I'm from the school that considers it impolite to comment on other people's elections. "Now if I had the vote -- and I should have, as I pay so much in taxes -- I would have a lot to say."

--MICK JAGGER declining to tell the New York Daily News who he favors in the presidential election
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Sun 24 Oct, 2004 12:19 pm
If these observers caught Democrats cheating they would point that out every bit as quickly as if they saw Republicans cheating., I am certain.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sun 24 Oct, 2004 01:26 pm
JustWonders wrote:
"But I'm from the school that considers it impolite to comment on other people's elections. "Now if I had the vote -- and I should have, as I pay so much in taxes -- I would have a lot to say."

--MICK JAGGER declining to tell the New York Daily News who he favors in the presidential election

Hmm - Mick Jagger's attitude here differs, then, from that of the US government. After all, it does send out election observors in international teams to other countries' elections, who pass judgement afterwards about how fair and democratic they were. And the government itself has also not hesitated to express its concern or dissatisfaction with other countries if their elections were considered insufficient democratic.
0 Replies
 
 

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