Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Republicans are worried about voter suppression.

Yes, you read that right.

Conservative blogs and news media are all buzzing about a team of international election monitors coming to observe the presidential elections in November. The observers are arriving at the invitation of the State Department and the behest of a number of civil rights organizations, including the NAACP, ACLU, and others.

The latter groups’ call for an international team to keep an eye on the U.S. elections focuses particularly on states that have enacted strict voter I.D. laws and other curtailing of voting rights. An NAACP delegation visited the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland in September to bring attention to the issue. The NAACP’s move, and the idea of foreign presence in the U.S. to observe elections, has infuriated many on the right.

Such as Greg Abbott.

(Abbott) sent a sharply worded letter to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, a group affiliated with the U.N. that plans to monitor Texas' elections on Nov. 6.
Abbott's message to the group, which has been dubbed the world's biggest election monitoring organization: Come at your own risk.

"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."

Let's go to Catherine Engelbrecht, of True the Vote (sic) and her interview on Fox News.

Catherine Engelbrecht of True the Vote appeared on Fox News on Monday claiming that the monitors’ presence was actually intended to prevent and discourage U.S. voters from exercising their rights. Fox’s Megyn Kelly readily agreed, stressing the left-leaning nature of the civil rights groups, seemingly unaware of the State Department’s role in inviting the monitors. It’s worth mentioning that True the Vote, itself a Tea Party group voter suppression effort, is currently under investigation for possible criminal conspiracy.

The most effective conservative meme feeds into a handful of paranoid conspiracies at once, and this one fits the bill. (Did you notice how quickly the United Nations connection was seized upon?)

As commenter Laura Miller notes...

The GOP is so vociferously concerned about voter fraud, you'd think they'd welcome outside observers to make sure there are no problems.

What are they so afraid of?

Why, that would be losing a fair election, of course. Or getting caught trying to steal one again, like they did in Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004. Or that "American exceptionalism" might not be all it's purported, with all of the voter fraud committed by Republicans that's been coming to light lately.

If you're not doing anything wrong, Republicans, you don't have anything to worry about.

On the other hand...

I certainly hope the election observers will be wearing body armor, because the Texas Taliban are capable of showing up armed and deranged when their fear and xenophobia are stoked like this.

Updates: Neil with more, and the international monitors respond to Abbott's bluster.

Ambassador Janez Lenarčič, director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), responded in a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, saying that Abbott's threat put the state of Texas at odds with an agreement between the body and state authorities.

“The threat of criminal sanctions against OSCE/ODIHR observers is unacceptable,” Lenarčič said. “The United States, like all countries in the OSCE, has an obligation to invite ODIHR observers to observe its elections.”

Lenarčič took issue with insinuations that officials in the group would meddle with elections, reiterating that they were bound by national laws and regulations, as well as their own strict code of conduct.

“Our observers are required to remain strictly impartial and not to intervene in the voting process in any way,” Lenarčič said. “They are in the United States to observe these elections, not to interfere in them.”

Let's separate and add some emphasis to this last sentence.

A release relaying Lenarčič's comments pointed out that the OSCE has observed five previous U.S. elections since 2002, all without incident.


Westchester Neighbor said...

The very blonde FOX News anchorwoman said that Republicans will simply be trying to enforce PHOTO ID laws in Texas. The blonde True the Vote rep didn't correct her when she stated THAT at least two times in the interview. FOX strikes again. Two blondes on a roll.

Greg said...

The mere fact that you could write such silliness as "Texas Taliban" is proof that no such group actually exists. If it did, you would be cowered under your bed quaking in fear for your life lest you be murdered in you home.