They claim they weren't from a United Nations affiliated group, but there's no question, they were in town two weeks ago. Get the story only with 970 WMAY.
The Organization for Security Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) sent two individuals, named in a previous blog, to Sangamon County in what is described as "interviews with state, federal, and local election officials, candidates, members of civic society and the media." Funny, I don't remember this organization reaching out to local media.
After being tipped off about the presence of the group in central Illinois, I dug around and found the OSCE website which lays out their missions and findings under the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights.
This group hits up the 56 different member states to review elections from every angle.
The two-person group visited Springfield two weeks ago, according to the Sangamon County Elections Office. Stacy Kern, with Sangamon County, says her office was caught off guard. Usually, she says, people who want to inspect things call and make an appointment. Being the office wasn't ready for international observers, the OSCE members came back a second time to look at the machines and do a test run.
I talked with one of the team members, getting the number off a business card left at the Sangamon County Elections Office.
Off the record, the international observer confirmed that they were indeed in Springfield.
I was then directed to talk with a media coordinator in DC who gave me the contact for a OSCE spokesperson in Warsaw, Poland.
The spokesperson for OSCE, Thomas Rymer, says that the United States is obligated to honor the observers access to election practices. But that's not the case down in Texas where the attorney general is threatening to arrest the observers if they enter a polling place to interfere with the elections.
Rymer says they have broadly responded to the Texas situation. He says that Texas law goes against the agreed upon commitments the United States has made with OSCE member nations in 1991. He references the Copenhagen Document from more than 20 years ago.
So what are they doing? They're apparently trying to find ways they can help make elections better in the US.
Documents indicate that the group is in different areas of the country to observe the election process: candidate and voter registration, campaign finance, voting methods, media coverage, etc.
Some of the current findings do indicate that there are some issues with ballot access for candidates and also a variety of different voting methods, from online voting, mail-in ballots, to new voting technologies, like what we use here in Sangamon County.
These things are important to review, but why have an international organization involved? Is the electoral process that screwed up in America that we have to have international observers like it was a third-world country? Maybe so!
Their second Interim Report says
"On 16 October the Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein and her running mate Cheri Honkala were arrested while protesting their lack of inclusion to the presidential debate in Hempstead, New York. On 19 October, Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party nominee, filed a complaint with the United States District Court for the District of Columbia asking the court to compel the Commission on Presidential Debates to include him in the third debate. Jill Stein, the Green Party nominee, insists that the debates must include every candidate who is on enough ballots to win the election by a majority of the Electoral College."
But these notes are in the footnotes of their report, not prominent in their findings.
Rymer said in an interview that the goal is for OSCE to help encourage better election practices and also ensure that election practices are in-line with international OSCE standards.
Armine Daeweritz, who was in Springfield two weeks ago for OSCE/ODIHR, says they gathered all the information they needed for their mission and will not be headed back to the Capital City.
Kern says that the two international observers didn't say they would be back. But, Kern says, if anyone was to be a poll-watcher the day of the elction, they would have to get permission from elections officials, political parties, candidates or civic organizations.
Rymer says that OSCE will hold a press conference in Washington DC the day after the election to present their findings and recommendations. OSCE has been in America observing elections since 2002.