The US States of Texas and Iowa have openly stated that OSCE Election Observers will face criminal prosecution if they come anywhere near US election polling locations. The hypocrisy in the fact that the country that dictates to the world on “democracy” is afraid to allow international observers to view its election process says volumes and brings into question the very fundamental legitimacy of that power.
The world superpower that dictates to every country on earth about democracy, transparency and the rule of law, the country which attempts to justify aggressive invasions and the assassination of leaders of countries it does not care for, for one reason or the other, by throwing around the word “democracy” while it launches invasions and arms terrorists to remove rightful leaders, looks absolutely absurd and hypocritical in light of the fact that it is attempting to intimidate and bar international elections observers from observing its “democratic” presidential election process.
The United States is once again violating another international treaty or agreement it has signed or is bound to. This is not unusual and is more the rule for the US than the exception, examples includes the Geneva Conventions, the Vienna Conventions, international anti-racism agreements, agreements regarding the treatment of indigenous peoples, prisoners of war, and scores of other agreements. Other areas where the US does as it please include international standards and laws regarding the declaration of war, international arrests, territorial and sovereign integrity, pollution, labor practices, extra-judicial executions and the list goes on. This time however, the double standards and absolute hypocrisy could not be more clear.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), has plans to deploy up to 100 elections observers all around the country on Election Day to monitor polling and other associated processes. This comes after a warning, according to the web site thehill.com was issued to OSCE official Daan Everts earlier this month by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights (LCCHR), the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) regarding “a coordinated political effort to disenfranchise millions of Americans, particularly traditionally disenfranchised groups like minorities.”
Rather than welcoming international observers, as one would logically assume any country would do which claims to be the world leader in “democracy”, almost entirely right-wing and conservative groups, include the supposed anti-election fraud group “True the Vote”, have come out screaming against international observers.
For those not blinded by the constant rhetoric and aware of the racist agendas of the far-right this is not surprising. It is one thing to suppress minority voters and throw up every barrier they can think of to keep them from the polls and have them disgruntled and screaming racism, it is yet another when that is documented and observed by respected members of a respected and solid international inter-governmental body like the OSCE.
After the election debacle of 2000, when George W Bush’s brother Jeb Bush suppressed minority votes in Florida leading to George Bush’s supreme court handed presidency, raised the interest of the international community as to the fairness of the US system, the OSCE was invited to observe US elections by George Bush himself in 2004, after UN observers were refused, although they had been doing so since 2002.
The states in question which have threatened OSCE observers with arrest and imprisonment currently include Texas and Iowa with others likely to follow. Iowa has stated that it will arrest OSCE observers who come within 300 feet of polling locations with Texas issuing similar threats.
The United States, as one of 56 OSCE members is supposedly committed, as are other member countries, to allow its elections to be observed, this has been true since 1990. Although the US is supposed to allow observers the OSCE agreement is not legally binding and includes wording that calls for domestic laws to be followed which allows individual US states and local authorities almost carte-blanche to do as they see fit.
According to the web site the Axis of Logic the head of the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), Ambassador Janez Lenarčič, wrote a letter to the US State Department of State and Hillary Clinton denouncing threats made against OSCE observers. She wrote, “The threat of criminal sanctions against international observers is unacceptable. The United States, like all countries in the OSCE, has an obligation to invite observers to observe its elections. Our observers are requested to remain strictly impartial and not to intervene in the voting process in any way. They are in the US to observe the elections, not to interfere in them.”
The United States of America has a lot to hide when it comes to elections, much more than most of the international community realizes. The fact that internal US organizations that defend Human Rights have requested international observers should be triggering alarm bells worldwide.
The problems with the US election process are many. Starting with the actual voting process, the US has shown that there are problems with electronic voting machines, such as the Diebold machines which caused widespread scandals during the Bush elections, including counting votes for Bush, when the other candidate was selected and which are known to be easily manipulated.
Then there is the fact that there are locations where there are no paper ballots and hence no reliable way to verify votes. Another problem is that observers are not to be allowed in many polling stations in many locations where there are paper ballots, to observe that the actual ballots are placed in the boxes and that they are sealed and not tampered with.
There are scores of other suppression and illegal tactics taking place in the steps leading up to the actual voting booth. Among these are those limiting who is allowed to vote and steps taken, by right-wing and mostly conservative racist groups to keep segments of the population away from the polls, as a rule black and minority voters and the poor and the elderly, voters who generally vote for the Democratic or third party candidates.
Such tactics include varied and widespread voter purges which have been manipulated all over the United States, including those purging felons, voter ID laws that target the poor and elderly and an array of activities that are designed to intimidate and otherwise keep minorities, the poor and the elderly away from the voting booth.
There are reports in areas with large concentrations of Spanish speaking voters of leaflets being distributed by right-wing groups with the wrong date of voting printed on them, for example. There are also widespread reports of billboard campaigns stating that improper voting or mistakes in the voting booth may be felony offenses, a clever move to frighten people into thinking if they make some little mistake then they may go to prison. There are also right-wing groups deploying millions of “observers” who may intimidate “selected” voters by making them provide proof of their identities before allowing them into polling stations, for example.
According to the site CNSNEWS.com: “The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and others urged OSCE observers to deploy in states where they allege there is “a coordinated political effort to disenfranchise millions of Americans,” especially minorities and low-income groups.”
Of all of the problems there are also complaints about the arcane and archaic Electoral College system, the re-zoning of Electoral College districts in many states such as Texas, where Electoral College votes are taken away from minority and poor areas and moved to “white” areas and even claims that there are only 32 counties in the US that will decide the vote and 41 out of 50 states are being ignored because they are either red “Republican” or blue “Democratic”.
Another problem in the US is access to the media, only available to candidates with millions, if not billions of dollars, effectively making it impossible for third party candidates to compete. Then there is the entire presidential debate process which is decided on by private corporations and third party candidates are effectively banned from participating in.
These are unfortunately not the only problems. There are also a slew of problems making it almost impossible for many third party candidates to get on the ballots in many states. Add to that unfair federal funding practices and impossible thresholds that are supposed to be met and you have a system that only benefits the wealthy and is completely controlled by those who are already in power.
Perhaps the United States could take lessons from the Russian Federation on democracy and running fair elections? Russia for example, has web cameras in the polling stations allowing anyone to observe, transparent voting boxes with an observable secure process from start to finish, hundreds of thousands of observers, 9 parties all with equal television air-time, inclusive debates and the right of every citizen to vote.
Unlikely, the United States has a fine-tuned system to keep the wealthy white class in power and keep everyone else as subjects. Everyone else includes: all “minorities” (who are in fact not minorities in many states), American Indians, the poor, the disabled, the young, students, migrant workers, displaced people and the elderly and everyone else not fitting the wealthy white ideal.
Lastly, the United States has become a country controlled by corporations and big money, they control the government and the political processes, this is a fact few would argue with. The system is also designed to suppress a huge segment of the population on racist and other lines. According to any dictionary, by definition the US has slipped into a state of Fascism, or neo-Fascism if you prefer. Of course such a system would not welcome elections observers. They can not allow the “secret” to get out of the bag.