State Officials In Texas and Iowa Threaten International Monitors With Arrest In Seeking Access To Polling Areas

State officials in Texas and Iowa have succeeded in putting the United States in the company of countries like Iran and North Korea this week after pledging to block access of international observers with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) to polling places — even going as far as threatening to arrest the monitors. The actions are in direct violation with our long-standing position vis-a-vis other nations. It is a shameful position that, again, makes our country look like a hypocrites in demanding such monitoring in other countries but not allowing it in our own.

Greg Abbott, the Texas attorney general, sent a letter to the 57-member observer mission, warning that “the OSCE’s representatives are not authorized by Texas law to enter a polling place. It may be a criminal offense for OSCE’s representatives to maintain a presence within 100 feet of a polling place’s entrance.”

Thomas Rymer, a spokesman for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, has said that the group always abides by local election laws. He correctly notes however that the denial of access to polling areas suggested by these officials, and the threats of arrest, contradict our own obligations under international law. Both Texas and Iowa officials have threatened to arrest monitors from the OSCE who come within a certain distance to the polling places. In Texas, it is 100 feet. In Iowa it is an extraordinary 300 feet.

Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz insisted that “Iowa law is very specific about who is permitted at polling places, and there is no exception for members of this group.” In the 2008 election, international OSCE election observers were turned away from polling stations in Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Ohio and Texas as well has having problems in areas of Colorado, Louisiana, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

Admittedly, these monitors act under generally defined provisions but these states are undermining our ability to take such a position in the future in other countries.

Yet, lawyer and Fox News Anchor Greta Van Susteren has defended the threats against international monitors: “The election is none of their business. We ought to be able to police our own election.” Of course, that is precisely the same argument used in Iran, China, and other countries. It is another example of what is often referred to as “American Exceptionalism” that we are simply unique and above the rules that we apply to other nations.

Even though state law may be clear, it is up to the State Department to make known to the states any clear obligations under international agreements. Notably, these monitors have been in the United States after being invited in by George W. Bush — a correct and admirable decision.

Source: Politico

156 thoughts on “State Officials In Texas and Iowa Threaten International Monitors With Arrest In Seeking Access To Polling Areas”

  1. government is no more a machine than someone using directions [constitution] to put a bike together.

    Give me a break.

  2. Elaine,

    One of the many random encounters that caused me to deactivate my FB account was over that very issue. A friend of a friend said something along the lines of “I can’t get a grasp on what Romney thinks about that issue.” To which I said, “Well that would make two of you who don’t know where he’s coming from. Romney’s mind is made up like a windsock. It changes whatever way the money is blowing.” Which of course merited the reply of “I could kick your ass.”

    It’s amazing how many American’s seem to think “I could kick your ass” is a cogent reply.

    Needless to say, much hilarity ensued.

  3. eLAINE:

    That is what I would call a pragmatist.

    As far as control, I think he would bow to the people if they pushed.

  4. Bron,

    Pragmatist? Is that the term used to describe a person who will change his position on any issue of importance at any time depending upon what audience he is speaking to? Romney has no philiosophical underpinnings? By that do you mean he is a man without principles?

    As I asked you previously–what do you know about mitt Romney? Who do you think can comtrol him? The Koch brothers, perchance?

  5. HenMan,

    Damn. I wish I had gotten one of those shots before my divorce. 😀 I recovered anyway, but the shot sure would have made it an easier ride.

  6. Actually, government is a machine, Bron. It’s just not one you understand as well as you should and that you do not recognize it as such is really a bit surprising. Your lack of understanding aside, government – not just ours but any form – is very much a construct. Conscious decision making goes into planning both form and function as much as if the engineers of government were designing planetary gears. One system links to others creating work flows and dependencies like in any physically mechanical system. Madison and Jefferson both knew this. Locke? Maybe, maybe not but since he wasn’t a Founder what he ultimately thought on the matter would be irrelevant – the same goes for Pufendorf and Grotius. The very language that Madison and Jefferson (a mechanical engineer in his own right) betrays that they viewed government as a construct in that they built a system they themselves described as checks and balances. If you doubt this, ask any of the other lawyers here. I won’t put words in their mouths but I would readily bet that both raff and mespo agree with the government/machine analogy as would most with the training. There’s a common misconception about the study and practice of law. On one level, it is a service provided to citizens. This is the day to day practice of law, civil and criminal, private and public. But the study of law, jurisprudence, is also the study of social engineering. And like any engineering, you can build wondrous works of great benefit or calamitous drives of destruction. But government is most decidedly a machine. It has inputs and produces work outputs in the forms of both services and goods. Just like a machine, it has metrics relevant to analysis of functionality and metrics interesting but only minimally linked to analysis or linked not at all and simply interesting either intrinsically or otherwise. Size is not a primary metric for analysis of functionality. What link it has is to analysis of efficiency, which is a separate issue to whether or not it gets the specific task done it was assigned to do.

  7. Swarthmore mom-

    Also, on Wednesday, I went to Walgreens and got inoculated against unwarranted guilt. If Obama loses, it will be because of his failures, not mine. Romney, Ryan, Rove, and the Koch brothers will be far happier with Barack Obama than with Jill Stein. Read the Green Party platform and see what you could have voted for.

  8. Elaine:

    “we have learned that Romney is a man whose word cannot be trusted.”

    that is old news. Romney sucks pretty bad, in fact he sucks so bad the only reason I am voting for him is that I think he sucks less than Obama and the other candidates dont have a chance.

    He is a pragmatist with no real philosophical underpinning, I dont consider Mormonism to be any sort of religion/philosophy worth much if anything, however I consider Obama a nihilist and of the 2 I will take a pragmatist any day of the week.

    I think Romney can be controlled, I dont think Obama can be.

  9. Gne:

    I am talking about conservatives are figuring out that it is time to get government out of business altogether.

    Responsive is fine. I would take government the size it was in the 1960’s.

    Size is the problem because government is inefficient. Even large corporations are hard to turn.

    Government is not a machine. A machine needs to be the size and complexity it needs to do a job. Government is something that needs to be restrained to the smallest possible size to protect the life, liberty and property of individuals.

    Take it up with Madison, Locke and Jefferson. I think Pufendorf and Grotius are on board too, but since I havent read them yet I cant say for sure.

    “…fundamental truths are necessarily simple. If they are not, then that’s proof you have the wrong concepts and principles, because the purpose of concepts and principles is to simplify.”

    Think about that the next time you want to speak of complexity.

    You will feel better when you stop believing the world is like a storm tossed sea with people as your only anchors.

  10. Bron,

    “The fact that a bunch of progressives dont like a candidate means that they dont like a candidate. It doesnt mean there is something wrong with him.”

    Massachusetts may be a progressive state. Still, the residents of this state have elected a number of Republican governors–including Mitt Romney, Bill Weld, and Paul Celluci.

    Speaking for myself and some other people that I know, we have learned that Romney is a man whose word cannot be trusted. Is there something wrong with him? I happen to think so. What do you know about the Republican presidential candidate?

  11. Henman, Since this is the second time you have said this too me, I will respond. Since you are in a swing state, Romney, Ryan, Rove and the Koch Bros. thank you for your de facto vote. Hope you have a few million socked away.

  12. There is no end to how blind your ideology makes you Bron.

    “Progressives will never put limits on business because they need the contributions.”

    There are no progressives in government, Bron. Hell, there practically aren’t even any liberals in government.

    “Same for conservatives although some of them are catching on.”

    They’re the one leading the charge into fascism. Caught on? It was their idea.

    “Progressives however cannot entertain that government might be bad when it gets too big and it is way too big.”

    And size has nothing to do with functionality, a point Libertarians are completely oblivious to. Progressives don’t want bigger government for the sake of bigger government. That’s a lie as big and bold and completely stupid as the “they want to take your guns, Bubba!” argument. Progressives want government that works for all the people, not just the wealthy. Of all the misconceptions you refuse to lose, Bron, that “big government” fixation is one of the more odious. Government needs to be responsive to the citizens, functional and the right size to do the job whatever that job may be. Only a fool builds machines to a size metric with the idea that bigger is always better. “Does it work? If not, how can we make it work?” – those are the relevant questions. Not “how big is it”. Size may allow more chance for error because of complexity, but size is not the primary driver of error. That’s just math. If you’re going to base your analysis on size? It’s going to be junk. And therein is the perfect exemplar of what is wrong with your ideas. You can identify problems, but your causal analysis is weak and the precepts of your Objectivist dogma are downright dangerously wrong providing a dual source of error in your analysis and your proposed solutions.

  13. Malisha-

    Although I am an atheist, I pray every night that the American people will unwittingly elect 535 Quakers to the United States Congress.

    Swarthmore mom-

    I voted for President last Wednesday. I will give you a hint- her name isn’t Barack Obama.

  14. Gene H:

    you are never going to limit access to government by trying to pass a law on campaign finance reform. You need to get government out of business altogether.

    Progressives will never put limits on business because they need the contributions. Same for conservatives although some of them are catching on. Progressives however cannot entertain that government might be bad when it gets too big and it is way too big.

    The idea that government can make the lame walk, cure the sick, make the blind see, raise people out of poverty is pretty ridiculous too. All that is and has been done by the private sector.

  15. “Instead of taking away the access for the rich, all progressives want to do is make them pay more for that access.”

    Complete and utter horseshit, Bron.

    If you were all for taking the special access of the wealthy, then you’d know many if not most progressives (in the modern sense of the term) want to put an end to both campaign finance as it is currently done and with lobbying the way it is currently done. Being that those are the primary ways money infects the system, either that makes you a progressive or someone in search of an answer that doesn’t exist: namely that businessmen good, government bad – never mind that graft is a crime it takes two to commit. Your Randist dogma is blinding you once again and this time it has made you claim to be for the same mechanism for reducing corruption as those nasty progressives you clearly don’t understand. That is one of the more ridiculous claims you’ve ever made.

  16. id707:

    I am not shilling for anyone. I dont like what is going on here anymore than the more left wing on the blog.

    I keep trying to tell them the way to foch the Kochs is to make a totally free market with no government intervention and better access to the court system for those hurt by bad actors.

    Government is the reason we have this mess. It makes it easier for large companies to compete and to stamp out competition and to gain special favors from Washington. I am guessing you will find some left wing politicians who take money from the Kochs.

    The rich will always get in bed with government no matter their political persuasion. Instead of taking away the access for the rich, all progressives want to do is make them pay more for that access. People like me want the rich the hell out of government, let them stand on their own 2 feet like the rest of us do. We want to take away their access, if they want a say then they can contribute to a candidate or pass fliers out door to door. No lobbying, no special favors, etc.

  17. Bron,

    The world is very simple. A power place conveys lots of just that—-power.

    Most of the CIA did not go to Yale, although some have done well because of the association, like Poppy Bush.

    And he was head of the CIA and had his control strengthened later as President. A handful can
    control many thousands of career people. Read Ishmael Jone’s book. Amazon will supply it.

    Or try Rush Baker’s “Bush Family of Secrets”. A harder row to hoe, but more rewarding as to the national scene. Nixon was set up for a fall by the CIA and Bush Sr. and their Watergate purposefully fumbled breakin, with two guys in the Whitehouse ready to take the fall to fix Nixon. They play dirty, and deadly, my friend, as do the Koch Bros.

    I don’t know your financial position but I can imagine that you are shilling for folks who would smash you as an insect if they are so inclined.

    Unfortunately, Obama might drone you, but that is yet unconfirmed. The Repugs we know what they can and will do.

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