U.S. civil rights groups ask international election monitors for assistance
NAACP and others say voter restrictions and ID laws ahead of 2012 US election require planned observer mission to expand
American civil rights groups have appealed to the world’s biggest election monitoring organisation over concerns about controversial changes in voter registration ahead of the November 6 White House poll.
The eight civil rights group expressed their worry that millions, including those on low income as well as minorities, could be excluded from the vote for the presidency and for members of Congress.
They raised the issues during a meeting on Tuesday in Washington with representatives from the Organisation of Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), which represents 56 states in Europe, Central Asia and North America.
The OSCE is likely to refer to the concerns in an interim report on the US elections out at the end of next week. It is also expected to pass on the views of the civil rights groups to its team of international observers who are being sent to monitor elections in 40 states.
The OSCE opened its observer mission in the US on October 9, led by OSCE ambassador Daan Everts. It has 13 international experts based in DC and 44 long-term observers from 23 countries being deployed throughout the country.
Its mission is to assess the election for compliance with international obligations and standards for democratic elections.
In a statement, it said: “The mission will analyse the legislative framework and its implementation and will follow campaign activities, the work of the election administration and relevant government bodies, including voter registration, and the resolution of election disputes.’
The eight civil rights groups, who include the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the NAACP, asked the OSCE to send election monitors to the states most affected by voter restrictions.
They cited new restrictions on voting periods and voter ID laws aimed at disenfranchising women, the young, the elderly and disabled, as well as minorities and those on low income.
The states identified as places they would like to see observers deployed are Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, Texas and Wisconsin.
The OSCE, as well as issuing interim reports before the election, will also publish its finding immediately after the election and a more considered verdict a few months later.
[“Voting day in a small town” by Liz West via Flickr, Creative Commons licensed]