North Carolina Says No To International Election Observers At Polling Sites

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The move caught the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe by surprise, given their access in prior years.

McClatchy DC reports that election officials in North Carolina have denied international election observers access to the state’s polling locations on Election Day.

  • The move caught members of the mission by surprise, as the North Carolina Board of Elections has allowed them access in years prior.
  • Nat Parry, spokesman for the parliamentary assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, said North Carolina’s decision is considered a “breach of commitment” and will likely feature in its report on the election.
  • The U.S. government has obligations to the OSCE but individual states do not.
  • McClatchy noted that “Some states, such as Texas, have consistently denied access to observers from overseas, but North Carolina is not one of them.”
  • In denying the international group’s request, Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the state’s board of elections, cited a law that only North Carolinians can be present in polling places. This law has not been cited in previous years.

Parry said the state’s decision to cite the law surprised them, coming just two years after a similar mission in North Carolina to observe the midterm elections there.

“We were all surprised, because we have observed in North Carolina several times in the past, and it hasn’t been a problem — and the law was never interpreted in the way that they’re interpreting it now,” Parry said.

  • "This is the ninth year that international poll observers from the OSCE have been invited to the United States to assess and monitor how well the election system is functioning in respecting fundamental individual freedoms," McClatchy reported.

The OSCE has long-term observers, who monitor the course of an election cycle over several weeks, including any last-minute changes in the law that might affect election results, as well as elected members from its parliamentary assembly who observe polling places on Election Day.

While the short-term observers have been denied access, the long-term observers from the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights are operating in the state.

Read the full report.


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