Reuters reported yesterday that Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has warned the OCSE to stay away from Texas polling places. I wrote the other day about the Republican reaction to the presence of these international observers. The agents of voter suppression to not want witnesses to their illegal activities.
So in a move that is likely to be repeated in other Red States, Abbott says he will take legal action if the OCSE refuses to follow state law. Not federal law, mind you, but state law. The treaty in question, of course, was not made by the State of Texas, but by the United States of America.
“They act like they may not be subject to Texas law and our goal all along is to make clear to them that when they’re in Texas, they’re subject to Texas law, and we’re not giving them an exemption.”
He claims, “Our concern is that this isn’t some benign observation but something intended to be far more prying and maybe even an attempt to suppress voter integrity.”
Only in Texas, is the subtitle here. These Red States sometimes forget we are a nation, a union of states under a single federal government and that individual states do not make foreign policy decisions, sign treaties, or decide which obligations to adhere to. You might be able to ignore biblical injunctions at will but states can’t ignore international treaties.
So Abbott sent a letter to the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and told them that OSCE vote monitors were not allowed by Texas state law to enter polling places:
“While it remains unclear exactly what your monitoring is intended to achieve, or precisely what tactics you will use to achieve the proposed monitoring, OSCE has stated publicly that it will visit polling stations on Election Day as part of its monitoring plan.”
Abbott’s letter included a warning:
“It may be a criminal offense for OSCE’s representatives to maintain a presence within 100 feet of a polling place’s entrance. Failure to comply with these requirements could subject the OSCE’s representatives to criminal prosecution for violating state law.”
You can almost hear his outrage: “Now, how the hell are we gonna suppress them darkies and greasers from voting if we got the UN watchin’?”
In a tweet, he did what Texans always seem to do, and drew a comparison with the days of the Alamo, in this case, the Battle of Gonzales in 1835. In that battle, Mexican troops attempted to confiscate a cannon and the Texans raised a flag over it saying, “Come and take it”:
”UN poll watchers can’t interfere w/ Texas elections,” he tweeted. “I’ll bring criminal charges if needed. Official letter posted soon. #comeandtakeit ”
Can we get any more melodramatic than that? Well, they do say everything is bigger in Texas. That apparently includes bullshit.
It bears mentioning here that Texas’ voter ID law, which Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. called a “poll tax,” was blocked in federal court on August 30 of this year and that Abbott plans to appeal it to the Supreme Court. The Washington Post reported with regards to that event that,
the U.S. District Court in Washington ruled that Texas had failed to show that the statute would not harm the voting rights of minorities in the state. In addition, the judges found that evidence indicated that the cost of obtaining a photo ID to vote would fall most heavily on African American and Hispanic voters.
Evidence submitted by Texas to prove that its law did not discriminate was “unpersuasive, invalid, or both,” David S. Tatel, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, wrote in the panel’s 56-page opinion. Voting Rights Act cases must be decided by a special panel of three federal judges.
It is hardly surprising then that Abbott should react so violently to the presence of those whose task it is to make sure that Texas is not going all cowboy on minority voters. Remember that the Texas law was blocked in federal court, and then look at what Abbott told ODIHR/OCSE:
“The OSCE may be entitled to its opinions about Voter ID laws, but your opinion is legally irrelevant in the United States, where the Supreme Court has already determined that Voter ID laws are constitutional.”
Apparently, Abbott feels no more constrained by facts than he does by the law.
Frantic as ever to keep the light from shining on Texas as it bullies the vote into line for Mitt Romney’s plutocratic theocracy, Texas Secretary of State Hope Andrade wrote to OSCE/ODIHR on Tuesday, saying,
“We have had a long and productive relationship with OSCE and election process observers,” The Texas Tribune reports Andrade as saying that the observation program “has provided valuable insights into the administrations of elections in various political systems and contexts. The exchange of information establishing best practices has been important and insightful and, up to now, completely devoid of any partisanship.”
So it is bipartisan to want a fair election process? There you have it, right out of the horse’s ass…er, mouth. At least Andrade had the cojones to admit it, if no other Republican will, though I’m sure that wasn’t her intention at all.
In support of his renegade attorney general and secretary of state, Governor Rick “Pray for Rain” Perry tweeted Tuesday,
”No UN monitors/inspectors will be part of any TX election process; I commend @TXsecofstate for swift action to clarify issue.”
Needless to say, the OCSE is not impressed by Texas bluster. In a press release Tuesday, the organization had this to say:
Ambassador Janez Lenarčič, the Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), expressed his grave concern today over the threat of criminal prosecution of OSCE/ODIHR election observers.
This threat, contained in an open letter from the Attorney General of Texas, is at odds with the established good co-operation between OSCE/ODIHR observers and state authorities across the United States, including in Texas, Lenarčič said, adding that it is also contrary to the country’s obligations as an OSCE participating State.
The ODIHR Director shared his concerns in a letter to United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
“The threat of criminal sanctions against OSCE/ODIHR observers is unacceptable,” Lenarčič 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.”
The ODIHR limited election observation mission for the 2012 general elections in the United States consists of a core team of 13 experts, from 10 OSCE participating States, based in Washington D.C., and 44 long-term observers deployed throughout the country. These are the sixth United States elections the Office has observed, without incident, since 2002.
Only Red State would think it makes sense to say, as they do, that because the OCSE has no binding authority over anyone they should not be allowed in polling places. If they can’t affect the outcome of the election, as even Red State admits, then what harm in letting them observe? Got something to hide, guys? Of course, Red State also thinks Richard Mourdock is the victim of a left-wing media witch hunt, if that helps put things in perspective.
Let’s face it: rationality is not a conservative strong suit this election cycle or at any time in the past decade.
On that subject, it is funny from the outside looking in that Texas conservatives love to appeal to the Alamo at every opportunity. They have completely lost sight of the fact that they have nothing in common with the defenders of the Alamo, who fought to free themselves from tyranny, but with General Antonio López de Santa Anna, who sought to impose it.
They forget, when they try to suppress the Latino vote, that among the defenders of the Alamo were about a dozen Tejanos, as they were called. In fact, the Tejano contingent boasted the only six defenders actually born in Texas: Juan Abamillo, Juan A. Badillo, Carlos Espalier, Gregorio Esparza, Antonio Fuentes, and Andrés Nava.
Rick Perry’s regime in Texas isn’t defending the Alamo, it’s attacking it.
Remember the Alamo indeed.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.