UPDATE – 10/27, 7:23 a.m. EST: The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) will send fewer election observers to oversee the Nov. 8 election than originally planned due to laws in 12 states that explicitly prohibit a foreign presence at polling stations.
Originally, OSCE said it would send 400 poll watchers to jurisdictions throughout the U.S. “to follow election day proceedings,” and 100 general observers “to follow the electoral process countrywide.”
While the exact number of “election day” watchers is yet to be determined, OSCE has announced only 26 long-term observers will be sent. In 2012, a combined 44 short and long-term election overseers from the international organization followed the U.S. election.
The Department of Justice has announced it will send fewer poll monitors and observers to oversee the voting process on Election Day after the Supreme Court in 2013 struck down a section of the Voting Rights Act which called for federal oversight in certain areas of the United States that had a history of racial discrimination against voters.
In 2012, 780 federal poll observers were sent to 51 jurisdictions in 23 states to ensure voters’ civil rights were upheld. According to Justice Department officials, election monitors will be deployed to less than five states in November, sent only to districts where oversight has been court ordered.
14 states have implemented new voting laws since 2012, some which now require voters show photo identification to cast a ballot. Six of the 14 states that have adopted new laws were subject to monitoring under the Voting Rights Act, including Virginia, Texas and Arizona.
“It’s a game-changer. Historically, the federal observer program has been a valuable and necessary tool to help prevent intimidation and harassment of minority voters,” said Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law executive director Kristen Clarke.
“Without these protections, we’re bracing for the worst,” she continued. “All of this unfolds at a moment when we have a presidential candidate who has called for law enforcement and untrained individuals to monitor activity at the polls.”
Throughout the general election campaign, Republican nominee Donald Trump has repeatedly called for his supporters to “watch” at polling places to ensure “cheating” isn’t occurring. The New York real estate mogul has gone as far as to say that the only way Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton will win the state of Pennsylvania is through election fraud.
While U.S. federal election observers are limited to only a handful of states after the Shelby County v. Holder decision, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) announced Tuesday it will be sending 26 individuals to monitor election procedures throughout the U.S. in October.
The international organization will access the quality and integrity of the country’s various voting processes and infrastructures before releasing 400 more observers in the days leading up to the election to oversee actual ballot casting.
OSCE has been invited by the federal government to monitor U.S. elections since 2002. The group will choose voting overseers from 15 of its 57 member states, which include countries in North America and Central Asia.
[Washington Post] [The Hill] [MSNBC] [Fox News] [Photo courtesy Jodi Robinson/isledegrande.com]