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OAS observers to observe US elections

  • Published at 07:26 am November 2nd, 2016
OAS observers to observe US elections
The Organization of American States, a bloc of Western Hemisphere countries, will be present in the US for the first time, sending 30 to 40 observers, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which has been sending small groups of observers since 2002, will boost its presence considerably, The Washington Post reported. During the OAS’ 54-year history of electoral observation missions, the United States has played a central role in financing but never had allowed that organisation to observe its own balloting processes. Observers from the OAS and OSCE (Russian observers may even join the latter group) would not have free reign at US polling places. Twelve states bar international observers, including Texas and Iowa, according to The Post. Tennessee bars UN observers, who have a partnership with the OSCE. A spokesman for the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition of US rights groups, told The Post that there are reasons for concern heading into this election. On one hand, there will be fewer US observers due to cuts to a Justice Department program, reports Business Insider. Experts downplayed the need for observers to ensure the legitimacy of the US vote, with one calling their presence a "positive, symbolic gesture." One delegation's leader stressed they would simply observe and report what they saw. But both the OAS and OSCE have noted areas of concern, such as campaign financing and voter representation and identification, and issues they would like to weigh in on, like political participation and factors that impede voter turnout. "We're eager to contribute to the United States," Francisco Javier Guerrero, the OAS secretary for the strengthening of democracy, told The Post. "We feel we can give a different point of view." Republican Party presidential nominee Donald Trump has repeatedly said he fears balloting in key swing states such as Pennsylvania could be marred by fraud on November 8 and has expressed particular concern about electronic voting machines. The OAS observer mission will analyse, among other things, voting methods, voter registration, campaign financing, the inclusion of minorities, gender equality and the role of the media.
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