Skip to comments.Independent Election Team Arrives In US
Posted on 09/18/2004 12:45:24 AM PDT by Byron_the_Aussie
WASHINGTON, D.C., Sep 17 (OneWorld) - A team of 20 independent democracy experts from 15 countries and five continents has arrived in the United States in order to observe this year's presidential election campaign.
The election monitors, who have been brought here by the San Francisco activist group "Global Exchange," will be fanning out in the coming days initially to research how the election preparations are being conducted in five states. They will then return just before the actual polling November 2.
The five states include Florida, Ohio, Arizona, Missouri, and Georgia. According to Global Exchange, Florida was selected due to the controversy that erupted there in the 2000 elections; Georgia because it is one of only two states where voters will use only touch-screen voting machines.
Arizona was picked because elections there are publicly financed, while Missouri was the scene of widespread reports of Republican efforts to suppress the black vote in 2000. Ohio was also of interest because it is expected to be one of the most hotly contested battleground states in this year's election.
"Many of us in this room have worked for many, many years in different situations and in different countries," said Brigalia Bam, one of the observers who also chairs South Africa's Independent Electoral Commission at a press conference at the National Press Club Thursday. "It is that experience that has brought us to the United States." She said all elections should be assessed by the degree to which they are "responsive, transparent, and fair."
Other observers, with similar qualifications, hail from Argentina, Australia, England, Canada, Chile, Ghana, India, Ireland, Mexico, Nicaragua, Philippines, Thailand, Wales and Zambia.
The Global Exchange group, which hopes to meet with local and state election authorities, as well as with civic groups that are also involved in getting out the vote and ensuring a fair election, is not the only international team that will be observing the November elections.
The State Department last month invited formally invited an observer delegation from the Vienna-based Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), a 55-nation body that encourages all member countries to observe each others' elections.
State Department officials stressed that the OSCE delegation will not have the authority to assess the fairness of the vote, but it will be expected to issue a report on any problems or shortcomings as part of a new program for all OSCE members.
That invitation drew praise from more than a dozen Democratic lawmakers who had asked UN Secretary General Kofi Annan (news - web sites) to dispatch observers to the November elections earlier this summer.
In a letter to Annan, which the UN subsequently referred back to Powell, the lawmakers said they were concerned about the possibility of irregularities in the 2004 balloting.
"Given the deeply troubling events of the 2000 election, the growing concerns about the lack of necessary reforms and potential abuse in the 2004 election," the lawmakers wrote, "we believe that the engagement of international election monitors can be the catalyst to expedite the necessary reform, as well as reduce the likelihood of questionable practices and voter disenfranchisement on Election Day."
The letters drew outrage from many Republican lawmakers in the House of Representatives. They promptly attached an amendment to the 2005 foreign-aid bill banning the use of any of that money to finance UN monitoring of the election.
"For over 200 years, this nation has conducted elections fairly and impartially, ensuring that each person's vote will count," said Rep. Stephen Buyer during debate on the floor of the House of Representatives. "Imagine going to your polling place on the morning of November 2 and seeing blue-helmeted foreigners inside your local library, school or fire station."
The delegation invited by Global Exchange said they were less likely to be watching specific polling places on Election Day as they were to be examining the larger process, particularly with respect to the possible disenfranchisement of voters.
"The potential for minority and specific groups to be disenfranchised, that's certainly ...a concern that needs to be closely looked at," said David MacDonald, a former Minister of Communications and Secretary of State under Progressive Conservative governments in Canada.
Several of the Global Exchange observers stressed that U.S. officials should not be offended by their presence. "I think it's productive that America should also invite observers because, if we judge ourselves, we wouldn't be judged," said Damaso Magbual, deputy secretary general of the National Citizens Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL) in the Philippines.
"We may think we are the best, (but) it's always best to have others see to have others see it from an outside perspective, to find out how things are," he noted.
"In all places, there is a need for sharing experiences, and there is always room to improve," said Horacio Boneo, an Argentine professor who has taken part in electoral assistance and observation in more than 60 countries and is one of the United Nations (news - web sites)' top advisers on elections.
Global Exchange said the delegation marks the first major effort by a non-governmental organization (NGO) to monitor U.S. election processes. A spokesman added that some counties with which the group had made contact had invited the observers to meet with election officials and even attend tabulation centers on Election Day, while in other cases - notably Miami's Dade County - no response has been forthcoming.
''I don't think they have anything they particularly want to hide from us," said Bam, who will be part of the team to be sent to Florida.
I think we've earned it, after what they've put us through.
I think you might see this. I have stated that Bush will get 58%. I stand by it.
Third world heap of steaming dung ping. That's what we'll be soon if this trend does not end.
In the days of old they would have been tarred and feathered. Bring back the days of old....
Perfect suggestion. Tar and feathering was all about making sure that shame stuck.
20 democracy experts coming to check on the greatest democratic republic to ever exist.
There will be another Civil War before that happens.
Wait until Sudan judges our human rights record...
Good Lord, let's not be too politically blatant OK?
Not only do we need government to help us in our lives, now we need the world to help our government.
Before we know it, we will be looking to the stars via astrologers to make our decisions for us.
When they should be judging the pot they *&%^ in before they start judging the one's that have done nothing but promote their existence as a part of civilization.
Now, will this group of observers fan out to Indian Reservations, and those select inner-city precincts that had 105% election-2000 turnout (and went 99% for Gore)?
Really. I wonder if they'll do any investigations into the, "Zombie Vote," in Daschle's South Dakota.
I wonder if they'll be checking on that Chicago blacksmith, who's voted Dem in every election since he died, in 1872?
I'm just praying there's a Freeper on duty, when they pass through the airport safety check:
Me thinks it is a politically "dead" issue! ; )
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