26 Oct 2012

Texas warns on election observers

8:45 pm on 26 October 2012

The attorney-general of Texas in the United States has warned international observers to stay away from polling stations in the state during next month's United States presidential election.

Greg Abbott told the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe that monitors would be committing a criminal offence if they came within 30 metres of where Texans cast their votes, the BBC reports.

"The OSCE's representatives are not authorised by Texas law to enter a polling place," Mr Abbott says. "It may be a criminal offence 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."

The OSCE is sending 44 observers to voting stations across the US at the request of various groups, including the NAACP and the American Civil Liberties Union, because of "an unprecedented and sophisticated level of coordination to restrict voting rights in our nation".

These include attempts by several states to introduce voter identification laws and other measures blocked by federal courts which have ruled they were motivated by racial discrimination.

"The OSCE may be entitled to its opinions about voter ID laws," Mr Abbott says, "but your opinion is legally irrelevant in the United States, where the Supreme Court has already determined that voter ID laws are constitutional."

The US routinely sends poll watchers to elections in foreign countries.