Civil Rights Group Asks for International Election Monitors in November

Group cites weakening of Voting Rights Act, Trump rhetoric

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe is already committed to sending 500 monitors to observe U.S. elections — a tenfold increase from the 2012 election. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images file photo)
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe is already committed to sending 500 monitors to observe U.S. elections — a tenfold increase from the 2012 election. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images file photo)
Posted August 23, 2016 at 9:06am

A coalition of civil rights groups, concerned about the “weakening of the Voting Rights Act” and Donald Trump’s call to supporters to challenge voters at the polls, has requested international election monitors to increase efforts to observe the U.S. elections in November. 

In a letter released Tuesday, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights asked the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe to consider beefing up its efforts to monitor the U.S. elections in November, and to target states that have recently imposed restrictive voting rights laws.

“A confluence of factors has made the right to vote more vulnerable to racial discrimination than at any time in recent history,” the group wrote. The letter cited Trump’s, “demonization of racial, ethnic, and religious minorities” among its concerns. 

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, an international security organization, sends election monitors at the request of member states. The U.S. government has asked the group to observe the last three presidential elections. The group has already committed to sending 500 monitors in November — a tenfold increase from 2012.

[Opinion: Could GOP Voter Suppression Tactics Inadvertently Hurt Trump?]

But the Conference, a coalition of more than 200 U.S. civil rights groups, said even more help is needed this year. 

It cited the U.S. Justice Department’s announcement in July that it would deploy election observers to far fewer polling sites this year than in previous elections, and voter fraud laws passed in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Arizona, Wisconsin, North Dakota, and Texas. Both developments are tied to the Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling in Shelby County v. Holder, which significantly weakened the Voting Rights Act.

Trump has called for his own supporters to observe the election, saying it could be “rigged” otherwise, and that people in “certain sections” of states like Pennsylvania could vote multiple times. Such predictions are not backed up by evidence and have been challenged by legal experts.  

But some Trump proponents are already indicating they will take him up on the invitation. In a Twitter post cited by NBC News, a Florida-based supporter of the Republican nominee tweeted a picture of a pickup truck with a cage in the back with the message, “We gonna be watch’n fer shenanigans … & haul ya away.”