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International Observers in US Elections 2004

September,  2005

2004 U.S. Election: An International Perspective - NOVEMBER 2004 UNITED STATES ELECTION OBSERVATION REPORT  9/21/2005 Fair Election: "This report summarizes the election observation conducted by 15 election experts and democracy advocates from five continents who observed voting activities in Florida, Ohio and Missouri. These observers are part of a larger group of 30 civic leaders, members of parliament, diplomats, lawyers, electoral officials, academic specialists, journalists and veteran election observers from around the world who volunteered to apply their decades of experience supporting, administering, and building democracies in more than 100 countries to further electoral transparency and reform in the United States."

November,  2004

U.S. Election: Did America really speak?  11/18/2004 Final Call: "A coalition of groups, the Economic Human Rights Project, continued Nov. 3 to urge the United Nations to send observers to monitor vote counting—which continues in a handful of states—and to commit to hold a hearing if violations of voting laws appeared widespread."

An Outsider's View  11/3/2004 Alternet: "For example, one aspect of the U.S. electoral system that our observer delegation found deeply disturbing is the partisan oversight and administration of elections. The secretaries of state are elected on a partisan platform and hold office as either Democrats or Republicans, as do most county clerks. This is a major departure from the global norm. In most other democracies, the elections are overseen by non-partisan commissions, which gives voters confidence that narrow interests won't manage the elections for their own ends. Here in the U.S., partisan electoral management has led to accusations of bias, especially in Florida and Ohio. Regardless of whether the allegations are true, their mere existence creates the perception of partisan mismanagement, eroding public faith in the system. Several other facets of U.S. elections caught our attention. We were disappointed that touch screen voting machines – which nearly one in three voters will use this year – do not provide a paper trail. We were confused as to why the public financing of the presidential race – in which each candidate receives up to $70 million – is not duplicated for House and Senate races, a reform which would surely improve voter confidence. And we were distressed by the laws in eight states that permanently disenfranchise felons even after they have completed their sentences, laws that we felt create subcategories of citizenship. We were also troubled to find that there are no provisions in most state laws for non-partisan poll observation. The Democrats choose a poll watcher and the Republicans choose theirs. But who represents the interests of the voting public at large, including the growing number of citizens who are registered as Independents?"

Global monitors find faults  11/3/2004 IHT: "The observers said they had less access to polls than in Kazakhstan, that the electronic voting had fewer fail-safes than in Venezuela, that the ballots were not so simple as in the Republic of Georgia and that no other country had such a complex national election system. . "To be honest, monitoring elections in Serbia a few months ago was much simpler," said Konrad Olszewski, an election observer stationed in Miami by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. . "They have one national election law and use the paper ballots I really prefer over any other system," Olszewski said… "Unlike almost every other country in the world, there is not one national election today," said Gould, who has been involved in 90 election missions in 70 countries. "The decentralized system means that rules vary widely county by county, so there are actually more than 13,000 elections today." . Variations in local election law not only make it difficult for election monitors to generalize on a national basis, but also prohibit the observers from entering polling stations at all in some states and counties. Such laws mean that no election observers from the organization are in Ohio, a swing state fraught with battles over voter intimidation and other polling issues."

Foreign monitors barred from some US polling stations: OSCE observer  11/2/2004 Sierra Times: "Another Danish OSCE observer, conservative Carina Christensen, reported less serious irregularities in Jacksonville, Florida, but said police had been called when she tried to visit a Republican office. She and three other delegation members had been well received by local representatives of the Democrat Party who had ensured their access to polling stations. But Republicans were less welcoming. "We were denied entry to a local Republican office in Orlando," she told Ritzau: "They called the police, saying they had received guidelines from Washington to do so." "

US counties deny access to international election observers  11/1/2004 ITAR-TASS, Russia 

October,  2004

International Monitoring Team  10/31/2004 Pax Christi: bios for the monitors of one of 3 teams we know of, along with the Global Exchange sponsored team and the Europe based OSCE team.

Foreign monitors to view N.C. vote  10/30/2004 News Observer, NC 

Poll watchers will keep their eyes on Florida  10/29/2004 Orlando Sentinel: "The lawyers and election observers must stand 50 feet from the entrance to the polling place, along with those soliciting votes for their candidates. Pax Christi USA, a Catholic peace group, is bringing in an international monitoring team of 30 foreign observers to scrutinize the voting in Duval, Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties. The team is comprised of observers from Africa, South America, Europe, Southeast Asia and Canada. "They will be looking for a lack of translators, accessibility issues for people who are disabled and voter intimidation," said spokesman Johnny Zokovitch."

Voter Intimidation, Missing Ballots in Florida Counties Set the Stage for International Observers  10/29/2004 Pax Christi/NAACP: "Thirty international observers preparing for their delegation to witness the elections in Florida circled “intimidation of voters” on their observation checklists as news reports Thursday focused on a “challenge list” of nearly 2,000 voters in predominantly black and traditionally Democrat areas of Jacksonville, Fla. A team of international observers from the Voting Justice Project of Pax Christi USA ( and the NAACP ( are set to document their observations at polling precincts in Duval County."

Africans to help monitor U.S. elections  10/28/2004 Black America Web: "Following a vote in the House barring U.N. observers, for the first time ever, Europe’s Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) voted to send observers for a U.S. presidential election. And Global Exchange began organizing its international team of observers, who form highly respected election officials of leaders of NGOs around the world."

International observers set to descend on Florida  10/27/2004 AP: ""We welcome people to come to the state, to watch the process we have in place," said Alia Faraj, a spokeswoman for Hood. "We're proud of the reforms and Florida's accomplishments." State law says that only the political parties and candidates can request precinct poll watchers and anyone not authorized to be inside the polling places must stay more than 50 feet away from the entrance. Faraj said no one from OSCE had yet asked for poll access. OSCE, based in Vienna, Austria, had not yet worked out the details on where monitors would be stationed or exactly what they would be doing, spokeswoman Urdur Gunnarsdottir said by e-mail."

British ex-envoy heads international observers of voting  10/23/2004 Washington Times: "The mission is being conducted by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR). They will monitor electronic voting, watch for voter fraud and track whether the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) is being implemented."

Vote observers: access to US polling places difficult  10/21/2004 AFP: "International observers invited for the 2004 US election found access to polling stations difficult in Florida and Ohio, a watchdog group said Thursday. "One of the surprising things we learned is that most voting jurisdictions have no mechanisms for non-partisan polling observation," said former Canadian cabinet minister David MacDonald. A system needs to be put in place that allows for international and domestic non-partisan poll observation." ...In Florida, only Leon county has consented to the presence of observers in polling places, the group said, while Miami-Dade, Fort Lauderdale and Broward counties have not responded. In Missouri, Columbia and St. Louis counties gave a green light to the observers and will allow them to recount the ballots, the group said. However, in Ohio, the observers have been given permission to observe voting only in Cuyahoga county, near Cleveland, Baghoomians said."

International Election Observers Release Report On Upcoming US Elections  10/21/2004 VOA: "International observers are recommending the US election process be reformed to boost public confidence and guarantee fair elections. After two weeks of meetings with citizens groups, government officials and policy experts, they’ve released a report entitled “Election Readiness: It’s Never Too Late For Transparency.” "

International Observer Team Urges Reforms in U.S. Electoral Process  10/21/2004 Independent Media TV 

Foreign observers see problems in U.S. election  10/21/2004 Reuters: "Substantial threats to the integrity of the U.S. presidential election remain despite an improvement in election practices since 2000, an international delegation of election observers reported on Thursday. The delegation of 20, including lawyers, diplomats, civic leaders and veteran election monitors from 15 countries, visited five key states last month to review preparations for the Nov. 2 balloting. They plan to return to Florida, Ohio and Missouri on Election Day, although officials in some counties have so far not agreed to allow them access to polling places and vote counting centers."

Why Election Problems are Human Rights Violations: A Primer on the International Law Governing November 2  10/21/2004 FindLaw: "November 2's election - especially if it is as close as predicted, or if the transition to new balloting methods does not go smoothly - may be heavily litigated. If it is, the litigants should consider invoking not only domestic but also international law."

Foreign Monitors Attack U.S. Election Process  10/21/2004 VOA 

Will U.S. Elections Pass the 'Global Test'?  10/15/2004 GOP USA: "Next month, the United States will have the distinction of having joined the elite club of countries like Sierra Leone and Sri Lanka whose elections are scrutinized and critiqued by international election monitors. It is a national disgrace that is openly advocated by leftist activists and a group of congressional Democrats."

Activist groups ask U.N. to provide observers for November elections  10/11/2004 AP 

September,  2004

International Observers Predict Trouble in U.S. Vote  9/29/2004 Reuters 

July,  2004

U.N. won't monitor U.S. votes - Lawmakers, including Rep. Barbara Lee, requested oversight of election  7/11/2004 Oakland Tribune: "United Nations elections observers take to the war-torn and disenfranchised corners of the world, from Kosovo to Burundi and Rwanda to East Timor. In Mexico City recently, they taught elections to Iraqis. Thirteen U.S. House Democrats, led by Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson and including Oakland's Rep. Barbara Lee, say it's time the United States joined the list, "given the troubling events of the 2000 election and the growing concerns about the lack of necessary reforms and potential for abuse in the 2004 election." "

US lawmakers request UN observers for November 2 presidential election  7/2/2004 AFP: "Recalling the long, drawn out process in the southern state, nine lawmakers, including four blacks and one Hispanic, sent a letter Thursday to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan (news - web sites) asking that the international body "ensure free and fair elections in America," according to a statement issued by Florida representative Eddie Bernice Johnson, who spearheaded the effort."

June,  2004

Will there be observers in Miami-Dade?  6/11/2004 Granma, Cuba: "In a memorandum published one year after it was written, Orlando Suárez, Miami-Dade technical services manager, writes that the system is “unusable” for the audit, recount or certification of elections. Suárez drew his conclusions from a detailed analysis that he made after a municipal vote in May 2003 in North Miami Beach. The local authorities have acknowledged that nothing has changed since he turned in the results of his study. In his report, Suárez analyzes the voting results in an area where nine machines were used and where the results of two of them fail to appear in the audit - which, however, did include the serial number of one machine that was not used."

October,  2002

Albanian and Russian observers sent to monitor American elections  10/31/2002 Independent, UK: "The joke, during the endless presidential election recounts in Florida two years ago, was that Russia and Albania would send poll monitors to help the United States with its unexpected bump on the road to democracy. Now, the joke has become reality. A high-level delegation of European and North American election observers – including members from Russia and Albania – arrived yesterday for a week-long mission to watch Florida's mid-term elections, which take place on Tuesday… "Whatever else it is, it will be an experience," said a tight-lipped Ilirjan Celibashi, head of Albania's Central Electoral Committee."

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