In fact, most of them are already here.
Since 2002, in compliance with our international obligations under the 1990 Copenhagen Agreement of the Organisation for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE), the United States has welcomed international observers to our national elections, and this year is no exception.
Operating under the organizational auspices of OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), a Limited Election Observation Mission has been operating from offices in Washington, D.C. since early October, with a Core Team of 13 experts from 10 OSCE participating States. There are also 44 Long-Term Observers, from 18 countries including Germany, the UK, Denmark, Switzerland and France among others, deployed in teams of two around the country to cover some 40 states. Closer to Election Day, legislators and Members of Parliament from OSCE states will also come to observe the United States elections under the same organization.
However, as readers may be aware, Texas A-G Greg Abbott has written a blustery letter to the Head of the Mission, Netherlands Ambassador Daan Everts, stating that
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.
The A-G goes on to threaten the observers:
This State has robust election laws that were carefully crafted to protect the integrity of our election system. All persons — including persons connected with OSCE — are required to comply with these laws.Of course, the observers have no intention of interfering with the elections, nor will they attempt to enter any place where they are not welcome. This election observation is a well-defined, highly structured process, following well-established procedures. The ODIHR Election Observation Handbook, first published in 1996, is now in its Sixth Edition. (ODIHR has also published a Handbook for Long-Term Observers, a Handbook for the Observation of Voter Registration, a Handbook on Media Monitoring for Election Observation Missions, and Guidelines for Political Party Registration, among many other texts on election processes.)
Elections and election observation are regulated by state law. The Texas Election Code governs anyone who participates in Texas elections — including representatives of the OSCE. The OSCE’s representatives are not authorized by Texas law to enter a polling place. It may be a criminal offense for OSCE’s representatives to maintain a presence within 100 feet of a polling place’s entrance. Failure to comply with these requirements could subject the OSCE’s representatives to criminal prosecution for violating state law.
In response to the letter from A-G Abbott, ODIHR’s Director, Ambassador Janez Lenarčič of Slovenia expressed his grave concern today over the threat of criminal prosecution of OSCE/ODIHR election observers. The ODIHR Director also stressed that any concerns or reports that the election observers intended to influence or interfere with the election process were groundless. He underlined that OSCE/ODIHR election observers adhere to all national laws and regulations, as well as a strict code of conduct.
“Our observers are required to remain strictly impartial and not to intervene in the voting process in any way,” Lenarčič said. “They are in the United States to observe these elections, not to interfere in them.”As readers can easily imagine, Fox News has already started covering the story, in its own inimitable way, beginning with an interview with Catherine Englebrecht of “True the Vote.” I won't link to the clip; you can imagine where that conversation went. I have not seen this covered elsewhere, but I am sure it will be, and soon.
Full Disclosure: I was Deputy Director of ODIHR for three years, and I have observed over a dozen elections in Eastern Europe and Central Asia with ODIHR, most recently the September 23 Parliamentary Elections in Belarus. Whenever the western media, including Fox, report that “International observers found elections in XYZ to fall short of democratic standards,” they are usually citing ODIHR’s efforts.
Sauce for the Goose, Sauce for the Gander?