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United States Politics

Texas Attorney General Warns International Election Observers 817

Posted by samzenpus
from the stay-out-of-it dept.
First time accepted submitter mescobal writes "Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott warned international election observers not to come closer than 100 feet from a polling place; otherwise, they could be subject to criminal prosecution. The warning was addressed to a group of international observers who intend to monitor polls. The OSCE, an UN affiliated organization of observers, was concerned about voter ID issues among other things. From the article: '“The Texas Election Code governs anyone who participates in Texas elections — including representatives of the OSCE,” Abbott wrote. “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.”'"
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Texas Attorney General Warns International Election Observers

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 25, 2012 @08:09AM (#41762765)
    Chuck "Walker" Norris himself will watch over this and will roundhouse-kick you until you learn to respect democracy!
  • by CajunArson (465943) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @08:11AM (#41762779) Journal

    If that's what the law states, then I'm glad the Texas AG is doing his job and upholding it since that the law that the democratically elected legislature passed. Additionally, why should there be unsupervised "observers" standing around a polling place and potentially intimidating voters? There are already plenty of limits to regulate campaigning in and around polling places, and I see no reason why unelected "observers" should be given more access to polling places that legitimately registered voters are.

    • by thaylin (555395) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @08:15AM (#41762799)
      yes, only other Texans are allowed to intimidate voters
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 25, 2012 @08:17AM (#41762825)

      Yet there are americans 'observing' elections in the middle-east and africa, but there it is normal because those regimes are corrupt. The fact that Europe is willing to send observers to the USA elections is maybe a sign that they think there is no real democracy there.

      • by Kergan (780543) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @08:39AM (#41763051)

        Yet there are americans 'observing' elections in the middle-east and africa, but there it is normal because those regimes are corrupt. The fact that Europe is willing to send observers to the USA elections is maybe a sign that they think there is no real democracy there.

        Or more simply, that the OSCE treaty, which was signed by the US, obliges its members to invite observers...

        • by dinfinity (2300094) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @08:42AM (#41763097)

          Repost because of idiotic troll mod:
          Technically, the state law is in disagreement with international agreements:
          "Access of election observers is regulated by state law. This frequently does not provide for international observers as required by paragraph 8 of the 1990 OSCE Copenhagen Document. Domestic observation is expected to be widespread." ( http://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/96574 [osce.org] - page 2)

          The document: http://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/14304 [osce.org] [osce.org]
          See page 1 for the US being part of it and page 3 and further for what was agreed upon.

          "(8) The participating States consider that the presence of observers, both foreign and domestic, can enhance the electoral process for States in which elections are taking place. They therefore invite observers from any other CSCE participating States and any appropriate private institutions and organizations who may wish to do so to observe the course of their national election proceedings, to the extent permitted by law. They will also endeavour to facilitate similar access for election proceedings held below the national level. Such observers will undertake not to interfere in the electoral proceedings." (page 7)

        • by StormyWeather (543593) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @09:38AM (#41763789) Homepage

          OSCE is not a treaty. Why must people base arguments of false facts? OSCE is a "political commitment" which state law cannot legally be subjugated to.

      • by bickerdyke (670000) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @08:47AM (#41763141)

        It's not "Europe" that is sending the observers. It's the OSCE, an organization that the US ARE A MEMBER OF!

        And all members agreed to send observers to each others elections on a regular base.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) <mojoNO@SPAMworld3.net> on Thursday October 25, 2012 @09:06AM (#41763389) Homepage

        After the hanging-chad debacle and dodgy voting machine scandals are you saying US democracy doesn't need some external oversight?

      • by jedidiah (1196) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @10:24AM (#41764323) Homepage

        These Republicans are projecting and showing what's in their heart. They are projecting onto others an honest image of themselves that they might not otherwise expose.

        The attitude of ANY American election official or party official should be: "Bring it on. Let us show you how it's done."

        Transparency is an integral part of democracy.

        This kind of cowardice is really embarrassing.

    • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @08:18AM (#41762827)
      Except that there are serious and legitimate questions about whether or not US elections are being carried out fairly and properly. So here we are telling elections observers that they are not allowed to actually observe the voting process. You don't see a problem here?
      • by Solandri (704621) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @08:51AM (#41763199)
        You do know why these "must keep a distance" laws are in place right? Once upon a time, kooky people in white pointed hats would stand around polling stations. They wouldn't actually do anything and thus weren't breaking any laws, they'd just stand there and take notes whenever a black person came to vote. If said black person later turned up dead shortly after a bunch of other kooky people in white pointed hats had gathered and burned a cross during the night, well there was no connection was there?

        The presence of such laws enhances the legitimacy of an election. Most local jurisdictions have exceptions allowing for registered neutral observers to observe the polling. But you have to fill out the appropriate forms first, crossing the t's and dotting the i's as a way to insure that you're really observers and not just kooks setting out to unduly influence an election. More than likely, the observing organization failed to file the appropriate paperwork.

        And this is not one of those situations where you want local authorities to use their best judgment and let slide just because it's a "good" organization. That used to happen in the South too. And any complaints by blacks about intimidation at the polls were summarily dismissed, while complaints about voting irregularity on ballots cast by blacks were thoroughly investigated. You don't want that. You want this to be done by the book, no exceptions.
    • by mwvdlee (775178) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @08:19AM (#41762837) Homepage

      and I see no reason why unelected "observers" should be given more access to polling places that legitimately registered voters are.

      You mean Texas' legitimately registered voters aren't allowed to come closer than 100 foot from a polling place either?

      • by chill (34294) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @08:58AM (#41763269) Journal

        Texas State Election Code, Title 3 "Election Officers and Observers", Chapter 33 "Watchers", Subchapter B "Eligibility", Section 33.031: "GENERAL ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS"

        (a) To be eligible to serve as a watcher, a person must be a qualified voter:

        (1) of the county in which the person is to serve, in an election ordered by the governor or a county authority or in a primary election;

        (2) of the part of the county in which the election is held, in an election ordered by the governor or a county authority that does not cover the entire county of the person's residence; and

        (3) of the political subdivision, in an election ordered by an authority of a political subdivision other than a county.

        (b) The Alcoholic Beverage Code supersedes this section to the extent of any conflict.

        Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 211, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1986."

        So, technically, unless the international observers are local residents, they would be in violation of the law. Legitimately registered voters may observe their LOCAL
        elections, either by County or possibly State-wide depending on which election it is.

      • by CajunArson (465943) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @09:01AM (#41763303) Journal

        Legitimately registered voters are allowed to show up, vote, and then leave in an orderly manner. They are not allowed to loiter around the polls all day trying to influence the outcome of the election. And "observers" who aren't even legally registered to vote sure as hell shouldn't be doing that either.

      • by gosand (234100) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @10:02AM (#41764057)

        In Texas it is seen as a sign of weakness if you have to get closer than 100 feet to cast your vote.
        That's because Texans vote by shooting at their ballots. "If you have to get closer than 100 feet, you need to practice your shooting more. YEE-HAW!" *bang* *bang* *bang*

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 25, 2012 @08:19AM (#41762845)

      law that the democratically elected legislature passed.

      How do we know that the legislature was democratically elected if there's nobody outside that legislative body watching for election fraud?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by dinfinity (2300094)

      Technically, the state law is in disagreement with international agreements:
      "Access of election observers is regulated by state law. This frequently does not provide for international observers as required by paragraph 8 of the 1990 OSCE Copenhagen Document. Domestic observation is expected to be widespread." (http://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/96574 - page 2)

      The document: http://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/14304 [osce.org]
      See page 1 for the US being part of it and page 3 and further for what was agreed upon.

      "(8) T

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ethorad (840881)

        Now IANAL but I think you shot yourself in the foot there.

        Your quote from the OSCE document clearly states that participating states [ie the US] invites observers to observe the election "to the extent permitted by law". If the law says they're allowed to observe, but from no closer than 100 feet, then how is that in disagreement with international agreements?

        Admittedly you could argue about how much observation can be done from a distance, but it doesn't appear to be in disagreement to me.

        Having said that

      • by Ed Bugg (2024)

        Technically, the state law is in disagreement with international agreements:
        "Access of election observers is regulated by state law. This frequently does not provide for international observers as required by paragraph 8 of the 1990 OSCE Copenhagen Document. Domestic observation is expected to be widespread." (http://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/96574 - page 2)

        The document: http://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/14304 [osce.org]
        See page 1 for the US being part of it and page 3 and further for what was agreed upon.

        "(8) The participating States consider that the presence of observers, both foreign and domestic, can enhance the electoral process for States in which elections are taking place. They therefore invite observers from any other CSCE participating States and any appropriate private institutions and organizations who may wish to do so to observe the course of their national election proceedings, to the extent permitted by law. They will also endeavour to facilitate similar access for election proceedings held below the national level. Such observers will undertake not to interfere in the electoral proceedings." (page 7)

        IANAConstitutionalL, but I'll play one on slashdot.

        With having said that I'll say, then the agreement is illegal

        The Constitution states that the states, that make up the country, have control on how elections are handled, except for a few details such as dictating when the elections can happen, but for the most part every state has control over how they handle elections. For the federal govt. to enter in an agreement that defines any procured or policy not dictated by the Constitution is effectively void a

        • For the federal govt. to enter in an agreement that defines any procured or policy not dictated by the Constitution is effectively void and cannot be enforced.

          Well, you know, except for that obscure, little Supremacy clause, right?

        • by dkleinsc (563838) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @09:21AM (#41763569) Homepage

          I'm glad you're not a lawyer.

          1. The Supremacy Clause clearly states that federal law trumps state law wherever they conflict.
          2. Treaties trump federal law wherever they conflict.

          So if you have a state law that says you can't do X, and a treaty that says you must allow X, then X is allowed.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 25, 2012 @08:31AM (#41762977)

      Funny because he didn't seem to give a flying fuck about the Tea Party people [huffingtonpost.com] who announced that they will be doing the same thing. I guess the major difference is these are "dirty, Socialist Europeans" rather than "true patriots" aligned with his political beliefs.

    • by Xest (935314)

      That's fine if you like being in the same category as Iran, Russia, Venezuela, and everywhere else the US has whinged about not having verifiably free and fair elections.

  • by Tastecicles (1153671) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @08:15AM (#41762805)

    ...of election officials to fix the vote.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 25, 2012 @08:16AM (#41762815)

    I love how Americans go around the world telling other countries how to do "fair" elections, when they can't even following their own laws and do fair elections themselves.

    Tell me again who should have won the last election?

  • by benjfowler (239527) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @08:16AM (#41762817)

    The world looks to America to set a good example, and America leads by example.

    It's a terrible tragedy that these nutjob far right wing extremists have managed to compromise politics so badly. And that they want to win so badly, they'll obliterate America's good name in the world to do so.

    And it isn't just implementing blatantly racist and illegal policies to purge 'enemy' voters either. It's setting up stings and other deceit to try and prop up their extremist loony Right lies that liberals are engaging in voter fraud.

    Somebody tell me why there isn't a completely independent, non-partisan election agency in the US anyway. Only a COMPLETE fucking idiot would let political appointees run elections. It's akin to putting the foxes in charge of the henhouse.

    • by blackpaw (240313) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @08:32AM (#41762989)

      The world looks to America to set a good example, and America leads by example.

      Sadly no, that ship sailed quite some time ago. In fact it never really docked in the first place. That the world looks up to America is a happy little fantasy americans entertain to keep themselves feeling all warm and fuzzy while they fuck everyone else over.

  • by MickyTheIdiot (1032226) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @08:20AM (#41762847) Homepage Journal

    In terms of elections we now have less credibility than Venezuela.

    It took real effort to break down confidence in the fairness of U.S. elections within 10 years.

  • by nharmon (97591) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @08:22AM (#41762863) Homepage

    Janez LenarÄiÄ, the Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), stated that "The United States, like all countries in the OSCE, has an obligation to invite ODIHR observers to observe its elections.â (http://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/96639).

    Where does this obligation come from?

  • by hutsell (1228828) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @08:48AM (#41763145) Homepage

    I was under the impression that the 100 foot radius (in California--Ianal) was created to prevent campaigners from trying to sway voters to their side and prevent the ensuing emotional chaos created from interfering with the voting process when the voters were making a decision at the polling booth. Witnesses, OTOH, can be anyone, for whatever purpose, watching and learning about the voting process in the voting area as long as it's peaceable and reasonably practical. (An example: students not of voting age.)

    • by Rob the Bold (788862) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @09:11AM (#41763451)

      I was under the impression that the 100 foot radius (in California--Ianal) was created to prevent campaigners from trying to sway voters to their side and prevent the ensuing emotional chaos created from interfering with the voting process when the voters were making a decision at the polling booth. Witnesses, OTOH, can be anyone, for whatever purpose, watching and learning about the voting process in the voting area as long as it's peaceable and reasonably practical. (An example: students not of voting age.)

      Same situation here: poll watchers are allowed in Kansas. Sometimes one or both parties have a poll watcher at the voting places. Usually they just count the voters coming in. Sometimes they have a checklist to look for voters they know are solid supporters to make sure they've voted (much rarer these days with advance voting and mail-in ballots). It's not considered electioneering, since they're not talking or wearing buttons or shirts or handing out pamphlets, just sitting there silently. If, on the other hand, they were "electioneering", the election judges would make sure they stayed behind the "no electioneering" signs. I assume (with no proof) that Texas also has a definition of "electioneering" on the books, and I speculate that the AG is just grandstanding a little.

  • by smooth wombat (796938) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @08:53AM (#41763213) Homepage Journal

    then there shouldn't be a problem with letting people observe the process to make sure nothing funny is going on.

    Right?

  • by crow (16139) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @09:09AM (#41763419) Homepage Journal

    While there may be no provision for outside organizations, in many states there are provisions for campaigns to designate authorized observers. I've done that in Massachusetts (I was marking off the names of the voters who voted on my own list so that we would not call them in the afternoon get-out-the-vote campaign). Assuming there are similar rules in Texas, it just takes one candidate to designate the observers as official representatives.

  • by ff1324 (783953) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @09:11AM (#41763443)

    Grandstanding akin to calling a press conference to state the sky is blue.

    FTA: “I have specifically informed the Texas team that Chapter 61 of the Texas Election Code would not allow them into actual polling places, and they understood this limitation,” per the election authority.

    So the observers were told of the limitation, accepted it, and understood it, but the AG in an effort to bolster his own image couldn't resist the urge to make a scene.

    Texas as usual.

  • God Bless Texas... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Virtucon (127420) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @09:47AM (#41763885)

    This whole bruhahaha over voter rights and disenfranchising voters is what elections have been about in this country since it was founded. It's been a tug of war ever since the constitution was signed.

    Remember that Women weren't allowed to vote? That was in the constitution as well, not in a state law. Poll Taxes weren't abolished until the 1960s! [wikipedia.org]
    T
    Now all of this voter "deletion" and other unscrupulous acts cause people to take notice? I just ask those people "Where the fuck have you been? Under a rock?"

    Look, people in power don't like to give up power, that's why we have really two parties in the US. They've come to write the laws including voter registration laws and the oh so popular redistricting battles that come around every 10 years with the Census. They agree that when one party is in charge that the other will cause no end of fighting and finger pointing to say how fraudulent the process is, no matter how fair people try to make it. Don't like a congressman? We'll redistrict his ass out to the pasture by bringing in more voters of one racial or bias group that will vote more the way we like it.

    It's been going on since the country was founded and simply put, it's not fair to some but it's always fair to the politicians who want to hold onto office despite their deplorable voting records and obstructionism.

    What's also lost on a lot of people is that Texas picked up a few seats in the house at the loss of predominantly Democratic States. Remember Congressman "I didn't take lude pics of my weiner" Weiner? His seat went *poof* because of the Census and more people moving to Texas. And the Democrats are worried that these 4 extra seats may just go Red. That's why there's been constant legal challenges to the redistricting going on in the state and every left and right wing fringe element is coming to the party. It's just wonderful to watch our courts and our processes get drug into the mud with all this Gerrymandering but it's a fact of life and ultimately the guys who make the laws could fix it but again they have agreement with their counterparts across the aisle to keep the status quo because it keeps them both gainfully in power and employed. You also have a white house with AG Holder that has been playing whack-a-mole with ever voter registration change or requirement that has come along in the last four years to weed out voter fraud. All the while Holder is playing up to every racial minority and pulls the race card out at every opportunity. [examiner.com] Having an Picture ID? That's a minimal requirement nowadays even if you want to cash a check, get a bank account or even travel on a train or airplane and this whole bunch of bullshit around this in Texas and in Pennsylvania is another smoke screen to make sure that voter fraud can continue. You see we have to maintain that status quo.

    Oh and if you don't think that voter fraud actually exists, how about something that was smoothed over recently. A woman and a democrat, suddenly withdrew from running for Congress when it was alleged that she voted in Maryland and in Florida during the 2006 and 2008 elections. [baltimoresun.com] So if you think that voter fraud doesn't exist, here's a woman, running for office with the ethics of a crack dealer. Now it's alleged but her own party called her out! Maybe she can do some arts and crafts [wendyrosen.com] when she's in prison?

    So who represents you? That's why you vote and that's why every vote does count and I don't care if you're black, white, green or brown but if you're here in the US, are a citizen op age and a resident of the state where you're voting, you should be able to vote. Each state can come up with requirements to assure that

All this wheeling and dealing around, why, it isn't for money, it's for fun. Money's just the way we keep score. -- Henry Tyroon

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