Lone Star state to int’l poll watchers: Be ready for some Texas justice

posted at 12:41 pm on October 26, 2012 by Erika Johnsen

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), an international organization that works with the United Nations and takes it upon itself to promote the causes of human rights, freedom, and fair elections, has often monitored the election processes in various countries — and in horribly corrupt and even violent places like Sudan or Uganda or Nicaragua, I think everyone can agree that those definitely sound like some admirably spent resources.

Why the organization should decide to divert any of their resources towards monitoring the United States’ elections, when there are so many egregious human-rights violations elsewhere in the world, is a little more mysterious — but it becomes less so when it’s at the behest of certain liberal interest groups. The OSCE started sending poll watchers in 2002, but this year, they plan to deploy a 57-ambassador strong “election observation mission” to various locations around the U.S.

Texas, anyway, doesn’t seem to find the motive behind the election-monitoring all that mysterious. They’re wondering if the OSCE’s interest mightn’t have something to do with various states’ efforts to crack down on voter fraud with voter ID laws (or, as certain circles deceptively refer to them, “disenfranchisement,” “intimidation,” and/or “suppression” of poor or minority voters). In a letter to the State Department, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott reminded the organization that the United States is a nation of laws and that their ostensibly noble goals do not mean that they are above letter of Texas law, via Fox News:

“The OSCE may be entitled to its opinions about Voter ID laws, but your opinion is legally irrelevant in the United States,” Abbott wrote in a letter this week to the OSCE.

He went on to remind representatives that they are not allowed to enter a polling place, and cautioned against going within 100 feet of the entrance. “Failure to comply with these requirements could subject the OSCE’s representatives to criminal prosecution for violating state law,” he wrote.

The letter touched off a flurry of testy tweets and correspondence that brought in Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to play ref. Janez Lenarcic, director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, fired off a letter to Clinton to complain — which was followed by a letter from Abbott to Clinton reiterating his concerns.

“The threat of criminal sanctions against OSCE/ODIHR observers is unacceptable,” Lenarcic said in a statement. “The United States, like all countries in the OSCE, has an obligation to invite ODIHR observers to observe its elections.”

Texas is not impressed.


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