OSCE Election Day Observation Remains Bipartisan TraditionU.S. invites independent organization, demonstrating leadership in free, fair, and democratic elections
October 24, 2012
(Washington D.C.) Amid news that observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) will be present at select U.S. polling places on Election Day—as well as false claims that the United Nations is in any way involved with U.S. elections—Peter Yeo, Executive Director of the Better World Campaign, answered several frequently asked questions. His responses follow:
What is the OSCE?
First, for the sake of context, the OSCE in an independent organization. While it does share a partnership agreement with the United Nations—given several core competencies that UN agencies sometimes call upon—the UN and OSCE are two separate and distinct entities. The OSCE does not report to the UN Secretary-General or General Assembly, and both its funding and its membership are entirely separate from that of the U.N. To give an example with which many Americans are familiar, this structure is similar to the kind of formal working relationship that the Red Cross has with the United Nations — also two separate and distinct entities.
Second, OSCE members also observed U.S. elections in 2002, 2004, 2006, and 2008, under the George W. Bush administration. In fact, OSCE member counties, including the United States, have committed since 1990 to hold free and democratic elections and to allow one another to observe their elections. As a founding member, the U.S. has taken part in dozens of observer missions over the years. In allowing observers into the country, the United States is preventing setting a precedent for other, less democratic states, to ban these monitors. Of course, neither the OSCE nor any UN agency has any jurisdiction over U.S. elections, nor do they presume to. Any notion that the UN is meddling in U.S. elections is patently false.
What will OSCE do on and after Election Day?
The observation will look at polling stations’ adherence to our own Election Day procedures. It will not observe voting, counting, or tabulation, and in the interest of transparency, OSCE will report back to the public with a statement of preliminary findings on the day after the election. A final report on the observation of the electoral process will be published approximately two months after the election.
What are the implications for U.S. leaders and voters?
The United States is a global leader in promoting free, fair, and democratic elections, and as a symbol of that leadership, our officials have committed to adhere to the same standards that we expect other nations to follow. The OSCE’s observation presents an opportunity for the U.S. to set an example for the world on how large and complex elections are conducted with an unwavering commitment to a free and fair process.
About the Better World Campaign
The Better World Campaign (BWC), an initiative of the Better World Fund, works to strengthen the relationship between the United States and the United Nations. It encourages U.S. leadership to enhance the UN’s ability to carry out its invaluable international work on behalf of peace, progress, freedom, and justice. For more information, visit www.betterworldcampaign.org.