United Nations organization set to monitor US polling places on Election Day

Jessica Stanton Contributor
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The United Nations-affiliated Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe will deploy election monitors around the United States on Election Day in an effort to monitor conservative groups for voter suppression or intimidation at polling places.

Led by Ambassador Daan Everts, the election monitors will include a total of 57 international experts and observers — 13 placed in Washington, D.C. and 44 placed at polling places on other cities.

The monitors, from Europe and central Asia, will not limit their observation to noting possible violations of U.S. and sate election law. They will also “assess these elections for compliance with international obligations and standards for democratic election” and “conduct comprehensive monitoring of the media,” according to a press release. (RELATED: Complete coverage of the 2012 elections)

Additionally, “the mission will meet with representatives from relevant federal and state authorities and political parties, as well as with candidates, and with representatives from the judiciary, civil society and the media.”

While the international organization has assessed elections since 2002 and insists that U.S. authorities have “invited” this mission, the U.N. affiliate received significant pressure from liberal organizations such as The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the ACLU and the NAACP.

According to The Hill, the groups penned a letter to Ambassador Daan Everts this month to express concerns about “a coordinated political effort to disenfranchise millions of Americans — particularly traditionally disenfranchised groups like minorities.”  The groups also met with Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe representatives in Washington Tuesday to further express this fear.

“We attended their meeting, we took note of the issued they raised and we asked our observers in the field to follow up on them,” said OSCE spokeswoman Giovanna Maiola in an e-mailed statement to The Hill.

The liberal U.S. organizations complained about voter ID laws and early voting restrictions, which they believe may negatively affect minorities, low-income Americans, the elderly and women. They specifically requested election monitors be sent to Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida, Ohio and Texas.

Most of those states passed new voter restriction laws in the months leading up to the presidential election, meeting with differing levels of success in the courts.

In Pennsylvania, a judge concluded a new law requiring photo identification to vote was non-discriminatory and reasonable, but ruled that it could not be enforced in time for the November 6 election. In Florida, the state succeeded in purging voter rolls of non-citizens and reducing the early voting period, but judges blocked provisions restricting voter registration.

The Obama campaign prevailed in Wisconsin and Ohio, with the Wisconsin Supreme Court refusing to review a Republican-backed voter ID law that was invalidated by lower courts. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of Ohio’s plan to limit an extension of early voting deadlines for military voters only.

Foreign observers are granted selective access to polling stations in the U.S., forcing organizations like OSCE to rely on being granted permission from state and local officials to monitor polling places. OCSE plans to publish its initial findings November 7, one day after the election, with a final report on the entire electoral process coming two months later.

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