As you no doubt know, Tagg Romney, the face-punchiest of the Romnoids may or may not have invested in a company which makes voting machines to be used in Ohio, the swingiest swing state in the history of swing states. In a country where this would raise a cacophony of “Wait…What!?” and “Nice try, but I think not, son,” United Nations sanctioned election observers would not be necessary. So, the OSCEPA is sending election officials to monitor the shenanigans in several states, and take a guess which humble Commonwealth is the only place north of the Mason/Dixon to warrant a pop-in?
The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe is recognized under the UN charter as a regional organization and will assess the Pennsylvania election procedure’s compliance with U.S. election-related commitments, as spelled out in the 1990 OSCE Copenhagen Document. The relevant provisions of this document pertaining to election day are paragraphs 7.3 and 7.4, which “guarantee universal and equal suffrage to adult citizens” and “ensure that votes are cast by secret ballot or by equivalent free voting procedure, and that they are counted and reported honestly with the official results made public.” In a practical sense, this means that voters should be able to cast their ballots free from intimidation, violence, or administrative interference. These are the main issues the observers are tasked with.
According to OSCE Editorial Director Nat Perry, the Pennsylvania delegation will have six observers, all of whom will be in Philadelphia. Perry said, “Our group of six will most likely split into two groups of three and will visit several polling stations throughout the day. Generally, the observers will spend no more than 20 minutes at each polling place.”
If this all sounds kind of freaky and third-worldy, it should be noted that OSCE sent observers to our midterm shindig in 2010 and had a very pleasant time. Perry told us,
The observers did not witness any anomalies in Philadelphia in 2010, and were very well received by poll workers, election officials and politicians with whom we met. Observers visited District Attorney’s Office’s “war room” on election day (where election officials respond to any problems that might take place at polling stations) and were quite impressed by the responsiveness of the authorities to the various issues that arose on voting day.”
However, the observers are not always so well received. Recently, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott (who is — surprise — a Republican) threatened to have OSCE officials arrested if they come within 100 feet of a Texas polling place.
As you might guess, that didn’t sit well with Ambassador Janez Lenarčič, the Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR). He responded to Abbott’s letter, saying, “The threat of criminal sanctions against OSCE/ODIHR observers is unacceptable. The United States, like all countries in the OSCE, has an obligation to invite ODIHR observers to observe its elections.”, Though, to be fair, Texas and Texans have always checked “It’s complicated” when asked if they are indeed part of These United States.
But the sojourn into Pennsylvania is not expected to be nearly as contentious. As they did in 2010, Perry expects the delegation to meet with various election officials and maybe even Hizzonor.
Since they are an independent organization recognized by the UN, they will not be in those blue berets or anything, but will wear badges identifying themselves as members of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly. Perry says the delegation has no plans to visit polling places outside of Philadelphia County, but it’s not out of the question. So if you see a couple of euro-looking guys with OSCE badges, say “yo”, and maybe tell’em where to get a good cheesesteak.