Tue 26 Oct, 2004 01:45 pm
By Carl Weiser
Enquirer Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON - A group of foreign election observers said Monday they've been given the stiff-arm by Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell.
Sponsored by a liberal group called Progressive Exchange, the international observers had hoped to observe the election in Ohio and ensure it was fair.
But Blackwell, the group said, has denied access to the polls in Ohio.
"From my long experience of international election observation, my suspicions are immediately aroused when officials appear to want to deny observers access to polling sites," said election observer Owen Thomas, chief executive of Electoral Reform Services in London. "International observation throws light on the workings of democracy. Why would anyone be against that?"
It's not Blackwell - it's the law, countered Carlo LoParo, Blackwell's spokesman.
"They're not the only ones being excluded," he said.
Only a few groups are allowed inside polling places, including poll workers, voters, vote challengers, witnesses and police. Anyone else must stay at least 100 feet away from the entrance.
I know the stink that would be raised if U.N./other observers were treated like that anywhere else in the world.