Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott sent a letter warning of possible arrests of international observers from OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) dispatched through Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) if they interfere with Texas election law. Gov. Rick Perry supports his AG’s actions.
Considering turnabout as fair play, the U.S. often monitors elections in foreign countries and foreign countries expect to be welcome to do the same here. After all, the U.S. believes the entire world should be assured of democracy and fair election practices. Since 2002, a group of 56 lawmakers from Central Asia and European nations have been observing U.S. elections, without any incidents — until now.
Amid allegations concerning possible misconduct from both Democrats and Republicans this year, tempers appear to be a bit testy. Democrats claim that Republican supported voter ID laws are an attempt to disenfranchise many minority voters, and the Republicans are accusing the Democrats of out right voter fraud.
Attorney General Abbott states in his letter members of OSCE have been involved with liberal leaning organizations that oppose voter registration laws and feel voter ID laws restrict a person’s right to vote. Abbott further warns, “the Texas Election Code governs anyone who participates in Texas elections — including representatives of the OSCE. 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.”
Abbott’s letter resulted in a response from Ambassador Janez Lenarcic, the Director of the OSCE and ODIHR. “The threat of criminal sanctions against OSCE/ODIHR observers is unacceptable.”
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland attempted to calm the situation stating, “since the initial issue with Texas we've received a letter, both for Secretary Clinton and one for Texas authorities, from the OSCE assuring us and Texas authorities that the OSCE observers are committed to following all U.S. laws and regulations as they do in any country where they observe elections and they will do so as well in Texas. To my knowledge [Texas] is the only state that came forward and said 'please reassure us that you're going to follow our state electoral law.' And they have now been reassured."
I don’t think anyone in the state that borders Oklahoma to the south asked for reassurance. I think the message was loud and clear, “Don’t Mess With Texas.”