Waiting for IDs
Waiting for IDsReuters

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott does not want observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to monitor US elections and even threatens to arrest them if they show up at polling booths in his state.

The organization has observed US elections since 2002, so why has its presence around such a furor this year among conservatives?

After all, the US frequently sends observers to monitor foreign elections and when they smell frauds, these representatives have not been hesitant in calling out the delinquent governments.

Part of the reaction is prompted by the origin of some of the observers, who hail from such questionable bastions of democracy as Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Their qualifications to rule on the fairness of elections are the equivalent of Syria's credentials in passing judgment on human rights as part of the UN Human Rights Council.

Few American elections, with the exception of a candidate running unopposed, have produced a 96% majority as in Kazakhstan.

But there is more to it. Abbott was quoted by Reuters “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,”

The European organization unwittingly became embroiled in a domestic American issue, when American civil rights groups such as the NAACP and the ACLU, sought the intervention of the European body against what they deemed "a coordinated political effort to disenfranchise millions of Americans — particularly traditionally disenfranchised groups like minorities.”

Conservative groups, claiming that they are combating voter fraud, have insisted on voters producing some official form of identification - for example, a driver's license. Israel voters take this requirement for granted. Most Americans polled favor this approach.

Liberals believe that this requirement is targeted at minorities who would tend to vote for Barack Obama and are therefore pushing back against the requirement.

It would appear that the fear of foreign intervention in American voting is a bit overblown. A total of 44 observers are coming and that is hardly a number that can blanket the polling booths in the United States.  Where they might be located is another factor affecting their importance.

But perhaps it is the principle that is important and the fact that this outside intervention is being solicited by liberal groups that has conservatives up in arms.