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Texas says NO to international election monitors

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
October 26th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Texas, a fiercely independent state in the United States, has expressed reservations about international observers coming to check out their Congressional and presidential elections in the coming weeks. The occasion has caused controversy regarding voter ID laws and the Texas attorney general.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, or OSCE has announced it's sending dozens of monitors from around the world to monitor the upcoming presidential and Congressional elections in Texas. The organization has sent monitoring teams to elections around the world and has been observing U.S. elections since 2002, when they were invited by President Bush after the hotly contested 2000 presidential election.

The organization is expected to observe in 15 U.S. states on November 6th.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has since expressed his displeasure with the monitors. Abbott penned a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saying that "an unnecessary political agenda may have infected OSCE's election monitoring."

Texas law, Abbott says, does not allow "unauthorized individuals" within 100 feet of polling places. He then asked Clinton to work with the OSCE to ensure the group abides by the state law or they will risk "legal consequences."

The OSCE team sent to observe U.S. elections has 13 international experts based in Washington D.C. along with 44 long-term observers to be deployed throughout the country.

The OSCE called it "the largest Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe parliamentary delegation to ever observe a North American election."

A Portuguese member of parliament, Joao Soares, who is also helping to coordinate the monitoring effort says that "We are not coming to judge a result but to report about the process," he said on the group's Web site. "In a country so well-known for its diverse citizenry, we will observe how inclusive the election process is in line with the country's own laws and international election commitments."

The monitoring team has issued an interim report last week warning "recent state-level legislative initiatives to limit early voting and introduce stricter voter identification have become highly polarized. Democrats are concerned that these would disenfranchise eligible voters, while Republicans believe they are necessary to protect the integrity of the vote."

A group of civil rights groups, including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the League of Women Voters, sent a letter to Daan Evarts, head of the OSCE mission, urging him to send monitors to states where voter ID laws and early voting restrictions "voting have been most extensive-Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, Texas and Wisconsin."

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