Things are never dull in the State of Texas. The reaction of State Officials to the idea of international observers being in their state to observe elections is no exception. First, as Hrafnkell Haraldson reported earlier this week, the voter suppression groups blew a gasket and State officials followed their lead.
The OSCE responded to the Attorney General’s threats with a statement which says in part:
The threat of criminal sanctions against OSCE/ODIHR observers is unacceptable,” Janez Lenarčič said. “The United States, like all countries in the OSCE, has an obligation to invite ODIHR observers to observe its elections.”
“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.”
Indeed, there is a huge difference between observing an election and interfering in it, at least that’s how we saw it when we were the ones doing the observing.
Interfering with the vote sounds more like what Republicans have done with efforts to suppress the vote through voter ID laws, hiring a “strategist” with a history of voter registration fraud; and giving nods and winks to groups like True To Vote that intend to intimidate voters on Election Day.
If we are going to talk about observers who seek to interfere with elections, let’s talk about the Texas based Tea Party group, True to Vote. This group has interfered with the election process seeking to have eligible voters removed from the rolls. While calling their foot soldiers “poll watchers” this group has interfered with the vote in minority neighborhoods, by virtue of intimidating voters and challenging a voter’s right to vote with election officials. They plan to do the same in this election. They caused delays in places where lines are long, with the intent to discourage voters from exercising their constitutional rights and plan to do the same during this election.
What has the Attorney-General of Texas done to stop this group from violating the very laws he seeks to use against the OSCE observers? Moreover, the OSCE is acting in an official capacity, and under the conditions that every OSCE country, which includes the United State, agreed to by virtue of being members of the organization. Conversely, True to Vote is a Koch brother financed vigilante group with no official standing and whose purpose is to influence and interfere with the election process.
A-G Abbot mentions ACORN in his letter, specifically stating: “One of those organizations, Project Vote, is closely affiliated with ACORN, which collapsed in disgrace after its role in a widespread voter-registration fraud scheme was uncovered.”
This is laughable given that the RNC and several state Level Republican officials hired Nathan Sproul given his history of alleged widespread voter-registration fraud. If the Attorney-General is so concerned about voter registration fraud, why isn’t he speaking out to condemn the Republican Party’s payoff to Nathan Sproul for engaging in the very things Abbot accused ACORN of.
Moreover, Republicans are attempting to deny people’s votes in another way. Sources in Texas tell of a Republican effort to manipulate Democrats out of their down ballot votes by circulating misinformation in an email containing the following message.
ATTENTION! TO EVERYONE THAT’S VOTING IN THE NOVEMBER 2012 ELECTION!!
IF YOU ARE PLANNING TO VOTE A “STRAIGHT DEMOCRATIC TICKET” THIS NOVEMBER, BE SURE TO
PUNCH PRESIDENT OBAMA’S NAME “FIRST” ON THE CARD, THEN PROCEED TO PUNCH “STRAIGHT
DEMOCRATIC TICKET”! IF YOU DON’T PUNCH PRESIDENT OBAMA NAME FIRST ON THE TICKET, YOUR
VOTE WILL BE VOIDED!!!!
PLEASE PASS THIS IMPORTANT INFORMATION ON TO ALL YOUR EM-MAIL FRIENDS AND FAMILIES. I’M
SURE THIS INFORMATION WILL NOT BE TOLD TO YOU AT THE POLLS THIS COMING NOVEMBER!!!!!!
Well this information won’t be told at the polls because it isn’t true. The reality is voters in Texas who wish to vote a straight Democratic Ticket should punch the President’s name first. If, as he claims, the Attorney-General is concerned about the integrity of the election, he better start by cleaning house in his political party and the organizations support it.
There is also something called The Logan Act which forbids unauthorized individuals from engaging in acts of diplomacy.
Unless the Attorney General sought and obtained authority from the Executive Branch of the Federal Government, his letter to the Ambassador appears to violate the “Logan Act” under Section 953.
Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.
We are aware that Governor Rick Scott has previously threatened to secede from the United States, but so far as we know, the Governor has yet to act on that threat.
In other words, the Attorney General is still subject to federal laws, including the Logan Act.
I’m willing to bet the Attorney General didn’t bother to get authorization from the Obama Administration before writing his threatening letter to the Ambassador, possibly placing him in a legally precarious position.
All off this is happening because Republicans know that the majority of Americans reject their plutocratic/theocratic “vision” of America. Rather than offering a mainstream conservative platform as Republicans did in the past, today’s Republican party is resorting to voter intimidation, vote suppression and using corporate funded vigilante groups to bully people away from the polls.
Threatening an international organization only emphasizes the need for an outsider to monitor our elections.
The Republican Attorney-General of Texas is doing nothing to stop efforts by his party and organizations friendly to it from doing the very things he wrongly accuses the OSCE of doing. Aside from ignoring violations of his state’s law by True to Vote, the Attorney general appears to have violated at least one Federal law with his threatening letter to a foreign diplomat.
Image from statesman
Ms. Woodbury has a graduate degree in political science, with a minor in law. She is a qualified expert on political theory with a specific interest in the nexus between political theories and models and human rights.
Based on her interest in human rights and the threats that authoritarian regimes are to them, Ms. Woodbury’s masters thesis examined the influence of politics on the enforcement of international criminal law was cited in several academic studies.
Published work includes case summaries for the War Crimes Research Office.
She has an extensive background doing legal research in international and domestic law.
Ms. Woodbury’s work for politicusUSA includes articles on voting rights, the right to asylum and other civil/human rights.