“The threat of criminal sanctions against OSCE/ODIHR observers is unacceptable,” [Ambassador Janez Lenarčič, the Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR),] said. “The United States, like all countries in the OSCE, has an obligation to invite ODIHR observers to observe its elections.”
The ODIHR Director also stressed that any concerns or reports that the election observers intended to influence or interfere with the election process were groundless. He underlined that OSCE/ODIHR election observers adhere to all national laws and regulations, as well as a strict code of conduct.
“Our observers are required to remain strictly impartial and not to intervene in the voting process in any way,” Lenarčič said. “They are in the United States to observe these elections, not to interfere in them.” Yet Abbott isn’t convinced. He repeated his warning Wednesday on Fox News:
Abbot’s reaction is part of a larger narrative being spun by the right, in which the observers’ presence serves as a threat to their attempts to crack down on supposed voter fraud. This comes despite the fact that these observers have been present at every U.S. national election for the last decade.
In an example of the sudden Republican distrust of these observers, Rep. Connie Mack (R-FL) said in a statement that the idea that the United Nations “would be allowed, if not encouraged, to install foreigners sympathetic to the likes of Castro, Chavez, Ahmadinejad and Putin to oversee our elections is nothing short of disgusting.”
Despite all the fearmongering, the OSCE monitors have agreed to (and are mandated to) abide by state and local law. According to OSCE spokewoman Giovanna Maiola, the team will be observing the complete election process, focusing on a number of areas on the state level, including the overall legal system, election administration, the campaign, the campaign financing and new voting technologies used in various states.