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United States Government Politics

Europeans To Monitor American Voters 1867

shonagon53 writes "The United States is known as being the world's most stable democracy. But since the Florida 2000 fiasco, things have changed. Europe's famous Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) will now be monitoring the U.S. elections. The institution normally monitors elections in third world countries in transition, and in crisis areas or regions where civil wars have destabilized the political process. In november, the OSCE will be monitoring local and state elections in Kazakhstan, Skopje, Eastern Congo, Ouagadougou and... the United States. As the BBC reports, for some Americans this comes as a humiliation; others see it as a necessity, since they have lost trust in the American election process."
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Europeans To Monitor American Voters

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  • mistakes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dncsky1530 ( 711564 ) on Sunday September 26, 2004 @07:41PM (#10357625) Homepage
    It's always good to learn from your mistakes, but it's even better to learn from someone elses.
  • Hey! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Crystalmonkey ( 743087 ) on Sunday September 26, 2004 @07:44PM (#10357648)
    Hey! We are perfectly capable of voting on our own thank you! The Diebold company assures me of that.
  • by JanneM ( 7445 ) on Sunday September 26, 2004 @07:46PM (#10357662) Homepage
    "The United States is known as being the world's most stable democracy."

    A nitpick, I know, but this is not strictly true. You've had a civil war, after all, which does not make it stable. There's quite a few other countries with as good, or better, record in this respect.

  • by Pentagram ( 40862 ) on Sunday September 26, 2004 @07:46PM (#10357665) Homepage
    ...if the US wants to ask third-world countries to allow their elections to be monitored, it can now say that it's happy for its own processes to be monitored.
    • I'd have to agree. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by reality-bytes ( 119275 ) on Sunday September 26, 2004 @08:07PM (#10357884) Homepage
      I believe it would be wise if every democracy invited 3rd-party observers in to monitor their election process.

      If there is nothing to hide then there is everything to gain by proving that any given democracy is a true democracy.
      • by drmerope ( 771119 ) on Sunday September 26, 2004 @08:44PM (#10358255)
        In fact, that's why we signed the agreement to have this done almost a decade ago. Contrary to the politically motivated suggestions otherwise, this was _not_ a response to 2000 election. We wanted to place monitors in other countries and got a response back something like, "Why don't you take monitors if you're so keen on this" and we said "sure".
  • by Kohath ( 38547 ) on Sunday September 26, 2004 @07:46PM (#10357672)
    1. Observers see no problems, report they see no problems, and we get to stop hearing made-up nonsense about widespread election problems.

    2. Observers claim they see problems. They might be telling the truth. They might be lying. Everyone gets upset. We never find out conclusively one way or the other.

    I hope they bring their video cameras.
  • Lost faith? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Cowtard ( 573891 ) on Sunday September 26, 2004 @07:47PM (#10357676)
    Those that lost faith in the process are those who never fully understood it in the first place, ie the electoral college and the possibility of a winner who didn't get the popular vote.
    • Re:Lost faith? (Score:4, Informative)

      by 1010011010 ( 53039 ) on Sunday September 26, 2004 @08:00PM (#10357815) Homepage
      Abraham Lincoln and Bill Clinton were both minority presidents (did not carry majority of popular vote). George Washington was elected unopposed.

      People think things like that are funny. They also think that they are voting directly for a particular pair of candidates, when in fact they are merely recording their preference for President and Vice President. The U.S. has never had a directly elected president. The Federal government is a creature of the states, and the state governments elect the chief executive of the federal government that they created together.

      Currently, many states apportion their votes in a winner-take-all manner. A few apportion them according to the popular vote. States can, however, apprtion their votes pretty much however they want. Don't like it? Talk to your state legislature.
  • Bah (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Wyatt Earp ( 1029 ) on Sunday September 26, 2004 @07:47PM (#10357677)
    No one came over to monitor the 1880 election after the 1876 election so why are they "monitoring" the Presidental Election this time? le ction%2C_1876

    "In 1876 the election for the President of the United States ended in a dispute. Democrat Samuel J. Tilden received 184 electoral votes, Republican Rutherford B. Hayes received 165, and 20 electoral votes were uncertain, two different sets of returns being certified. The Electoral Commission was formed to settle the result. The disputed results involved 19 electors from Florida, Louisana, and South Carolina as well as one from Oregon. In those states, the official returns favored the Democrats, but the elections were marked by fraud and threats of violence against Republican voters and the Republican dominated electoral commissions were able to throw out enough votes to allow the Republicans to win those states. The result was two sets of returns, one certified by the governor favoring the Republicans and one certified by the state legislatures favoring the Democrats.

    In the case of Oregon, the votes were clearly in favor of the Republicans. However, one of the Republican electors was a postmaster. The Democratic governor claimed that the elector was constitutionally disqualified on the grounds of holding a Federal office and therefore substituted a Democratic elector in his place."
    • Re:Bah (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Scrameustache ( 459504 ) on Sunday September 26, 2004 @08:02PM (#10357834) Homepage Journal
      No one came over to monitor the 1880 election after the 1876 election so why are they "monitoring" the Presidental Election this time?

      Because no one monitored anybody else's elections in the 19th century.
    • Re:Bah (Score:4, Insightful)

      by kbahey ( 102895 ) on Sunday September 26, 2004 @08:03PM (#10357845) Homepage

      No one came over to monitor the 1880 election after the 1876 election so why are they "monitoring" the Presidental Election this time?

      Several reasons:

      • Then, the USA was not as influential in world affairs. Now it is.
      • Then, the USA was not a super power, nor the only super power. Now it is.
      • Then, the USA did not have a pre-emtive war doctrine. Now it does.
      • Then, the USA did not invade a soveriegn country illegally, against international law. Now it does.
      • Then, the USA did not say: "You are either with us, or with the terrorist". Now it does.

      I am sure there are more.

      • Re:Bah (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Blastrogath ( 579992 ) on Sunday September 26, 2004 @09:02PM (#10358424)
        * Then, the USA did not invade a soveriegn country illegally, against international law. Now it does.
        What about the US/Mexican war? US citezens moved into and siezed through military power: Texas, New Mexico, and California. Have none of you ever heard of the "Manifest Destiny" doctrine?

        Canadian forein policy in the 1800s was centred around fear of invasion by the US. A driving force behind Canadian independence from england was to make it politicaly harder for the US to invade. A fair number of people viewed leaving the british empire as a protective sacrifice.

        The US was historicly a violently expansionist state.
        • Re:Bah (Score:4, Interesting)

          by kbahey ( 102895 ) on Sunday September 26, 2004 @09:46PM (#10358793) Homepage

          All good points for sure.

          But again, it was a different time. Just a little before that slavery was legal. Manifest destiny is another version of colonialism, and every nation who had the means (money, arms, ...etc.) acted anyway it liked provided it did not incur the wrath of other powerful nations (who hate competition mainly).

          Now is another time, with international treaties and internation laws, to which the US is a signatory.

          I am under no illusion, we live in a practical world, where reality is not in sync with ethics or morals. Countries will break the laws they signed.

          However, when you do so, at least do not underestimate the rest of the world, and take them as idiots, and try to preach to them that what you did is 'right', and 'good', and sell it to them as promoting freedom and democracy.

          People are not that stupid.

  • Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DAldredge ( 2353 ) <SlashdotEmail@GMail.Com> on Sunday September 26, 2004 @07:48PM (#10357693) Journal
    Why aren't they checking on the dead voting in Chicago or the illegals voiting in Southern California?
  • by robotoil ( 627969 ) on Sunday September 26, 2004 @07:49PM (#10357697)
    As an American, I welcome oversight from a foreign country. Oh, any by all means, let it be a 3rd world nation where they take the vote seriously.
  • by PipianJ ( 574459 ) on Sunday September 26, 2004 @07:49PM (#10357698)
    As in the Columbia Spectator... []

    The OSCE was actually invited by the State Department (unlike the attempted invitation of the United Nations by Democrats in the House) and has observed elections in the US before, such as during the 2002 mid-terms and the California gubernatorial race. Indeed, the former Bush, in 1990, signed the Copenhagen Document which stated that signers (such as the US) may "invite observers from any other [OSCE] participating States ... to observe the course of their national election proceedings."
  • by mwillems ( 266506 ) on Sunday September 26, 2004 @07:51PM (#10357725) Homepage
    "The United States is known as being the world's most stable democracy"

    Huh? By whom? By Americans. Just like the German system is 'known' as being the most stable etc etc by Germans, the Finnish system is 'known' as being the most stable etc etc by Finns, etc.

    Sorry, but I stop reading at that point. Anyone who says something like that needs to do a bit of research. Objectively, how do you mention stability? By lives lost in wars? Civil wars waged? People in prison as a percentage of the population? The relationship between percentage of votes cast and actual representation? Freedom ensconced in the constitution? Hanging or pregnant Chads? And by those citeria, are you still the most stable? And then following on, are you "known" to be the most stable? By whom? By the Chinese? By young Arabs? By the French?

    I could go on but I am getting tired trying to bridge a gap of this magnitude...

  • by Malfourmed ( 633699 ) on Sunday September 26, 2004 @07:55PM (#10357766) Homepage
    Even the biggest, most ethical companies are audited every year*. In fact, the willingnes to submit oneself to external scrutiny sends a much more comforting signal that there is nothing to hide or be ashamed of.

    Why shouldn't the same be true for elections?

    * Yes, audits of public (and certain private) companies are mandatory not voluntary, but it's the principle of the matter that applies.
  • CNN has more (Score:5, Informative)

    by ojg ( 548554 ) on Sunday September 26, 2004 @07:58PM (#10357792) ional.observers/ []

    This story explains why it is the OSCE that has been invited to do the job and not the UN, which is more common. Of course it has to do with the US congress where mentioning the two letters U.N. is worse than mentioning the four letters f.u.c.k.

    As a European living in the US, I remember that back in 2000 I mentioned to my friends using UN elections monitors for the next election, after which I was verbally lynched for about an hour.

    Apparently not a popular idea :)

  • by museumpeace ( 735109 ) on Sunday September 26, 2004 @08:06PM (#10357880) Journal
    Our government spends way more than it takes in. A huge percentage of our finished goods are made in other countries, even high tech goods. We start wars on skimpy evidence just to keep the population in line behind a shakey leader. The government constantly puts out an interpretation of its situation wildly at odds with what is reported in the world press. Our health care system is available to shrinking portion of our population. And now we hear that somebody else has to check and see if our election process is rigged. All that is left is for our credit rating to catch up with our deficit spending and the last of our green card engineers to go back to home countries where their wages will soon be buying them a better life than than they do here.
  • For the record... (Score:5, Informative)

    by deblau ( 68023 ) <> on Sunday September 26, 2004 @08:18PM (#10357995) Journal
    Skopje and Ouagadougou are the capitals of Macedonia [] and Burkina Faso [], respectively. Kazakhstan [] is a country. There are two Congos: the Republic of the Congo [] (formerly French Middle Congo), and the Democratic Republic of the Congo [], which lies just to the east. Eastern DROC borders Rwanda, where there was a massive genocide 10 years ago.
  • by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Sunday September 26, 2004 @08:22PM (#10358034) Homepage
    Shortly after the mess that was the 2000 election, Fidel Castro offered to send Cuban election observers to Florida. I guess he does have a sense of humor.
  • by pyrrhonist ( 701154 ) on Sunday September 26, 2004 @08:32PM (#10358136)
    for some Americans this comes as a humiliation

    This is far from being a humiliation. The OSCE was asked by Secretary of State Colin Powell to monitor the upcoming election.

    Furthermore, this isn't the first time they have monitored an election in the U.S. They monitored both the 2002 midterm elections and the California gubernatorial recall election.

    So, uh, quit your bitchin'.

  • How humiliating (Score:4, Interesting)

    by HangingChad ( 677530 ) on Sunday September 26, 2004 @08:34PM (#10358149) Homepage
    One of these days we're going to need to face up to the fact that the only thing "United" about the US is the name.

    Perhaps it's time to consider an amicable dissolution. Split the country right down the Mississippi River and give everyone ten years to pick a side and move. Or let people vote on what side they want to live and make the division based on a percentage of the population. Authorize some kind of land swap deal so families on one side or the other can trade for property of near equal value. Provide tax credits and subsidies for moving.

    If you choose to travel to or stay on...whichever agree to live by the laws and standards on that side of the country.

    The right wing side would get all the religious freaks and could ban drugs, porn, abortion, make being gay a crime, reinstate the draft and set up whatever kind of religious symbols they want on government buildings and really enjoy getting the Ashcroft/Cheney/Renquist/Scalia treatment. Paradoxically the same type society our country's founders moved over here to get away from.

    The progressive side of the country could live life their own way.

    My suggestion is we give the right the side that has the most prisons already built. That way they don't go broke the first couple years.

    Hey, just because we started out united it doesn't mean we have to stay that way.

  • by madsenj37 ( 612413 ) on Sunday September 26, 2004 @08:37PM (#10358180)
    "The United States is known as being the world's most stable democracy."

    We are not a democracy. We are a very democratic republic. This is a very important point that many people misunderstand.
  • by ildon ( 413912 ) on Sunday September 26, 2004 @09:10PM (#10358504)
    This is the most misleading Slashdot article I have ever read.

    If you actually look at their site they are also monitoring elections in France, Canada, Greece, Spain, and Australia []. Hardly "third world countries", and I don't remember any recent civil wars in them either.
  • by quigonn ( 80360 ) on Monday September 27, 2004 @02:26AM (#10360218) Homepage

    Bush [ ]
    [ ] Kerry

    Let the courts decide which field belongs to which candidate

"Paul Lynde to block..." -- a contestant on "Hollywood Squares"