election observers

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Kenya: Election monitors urge losing candidates to accept poll results | The Guardian

International election observers have called on politicians defeated in Kenya’s fiercely contested polls to concede gracefully without taking their struggle to the streets. The statements by delegations from the EU, the African Union and the US came as opposition groups accused electoral officials of hiding the true results of Tuesday’s elections, which they said showed their leader, Raila Odinga, had won by 300,000 votes. Provisional results released by Kenya’s election commission have put the incumbent president, Uhuru Kenyatta, ahead by 54.2% of votes counted, to 44% for Odinga. A final verified declaration of results based on returns signed by agents from all parties at polling stations and constituencies is expected on Friday.

Full Article: Kenya election monitors urge losing candidates to accept poll results | World news | The Guardian.

Papua New Guinea: ‘Make election less disruptive’, pleads commissioner ahead of PNG ballot | Asia Pacific Report

More than 800 election monitors will be deployed nationwide to observe and make independent reports on Papua New Guinea’s national election starting this Saturday. Electoral commissioner Patilias Gamato says international and local monitors will report back to their respective organisations, heads of governments and the government itself on the credibility of the PNG election process. “We have invited international election monitors or observers to visit during the months of June and July to see whether we have planned well for the election and also see if we followed the rule of law and the election laws on conducting the 2017 national election,” Gamato said in a statement.

Full Article: ‘Make election less disruptive’, pleads commissioner ahead of PNG ballot | Asia Pacific Report.

Albania: Leaders fail to back compromise for June 18 vote | Associated Press

Albania’s political leaders on Thursday failed for the second time to reach a compromise as the opposition has boycotted the parliament and the June 18 parliamentary election. Following intensive meetings with Western diplomats, Prime Minister Edi Rama, leader of the Socialist Party, and Lulzim Basha of the main opposition Democratic Party met again Thursday night. Rama said the government offered direct monitoring of the voting with a task force of opposition representatives accompanied by monitors from the European Union, the United States and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Full Article: Albanian leaders fail to back compromise for June 18 vote | World | lancasteronline.com.

Turkey: International Monitors Say Turkey’s Referendum Tainted, Vote Count Marred | RFERL

International election monitors have criticized a Turkish referendum that has brought sweeping new powers to the presidency, saying the campaign was conducted on an “unlevel playing field” and that the vote count was marred by late procedural changes. Observers from the OSCE and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) said in a joint statement on April 17 that the legal framework for the referendum “remained inadequate for the holding of a genuinely democratic referendum.” Turkey’s Central Election Committee (CEC) late on April 16 declared the “yes” camp as the winner with 51.3 percent of votes.

Full Article: International Monitors Say Turkey's Referendum Tainted, Vote Count Marred.

Turkey: Observer says 2.5 million Turkish referendum votes could have been manipulated | Reuters

Up to 2.5 million votes could have been manipulated in Sunday’s Turkish referendum which ended in a tight ‘Yes’ vote for greater presidential powers, Alev Korun, an Austrian member of the Council of Europe observer mission, told ORF radio on Tuesday. The mission of observers from the 47-member Council of Europe, the continent’s leading human rights body, had already said the referendum was an uneven contest. Support for “Yes” dominated campaign coverage, and the arrests of journalists and closure of media outlets silenced other views, the monitors said. But Korun said there were questions about the actual voting as well.

Full Article: Observer says 2.5 million Turkish referendum votes could have been manipulated | Reuters.

National: Will The New Era Of Limited Federal Monitoring Still Protect Voter Rights? | NPR

This year’s presidential election will be the first in a half-century without the significant presence of federal observers at polling places. That’s because in 2013 the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, and when the court wiped out that section, the statute that provided for election observers went, too. The landmark decision in Shelby County v. Holder doesn’t mean civil rights officials are totally disarmed. The Justice Department will still send out “hundreds” of “monitors” to oversee Election Day compliance. But the number is smaller than it was before, and monitors can only enter the polling place if local officials agree. Observers, by contrast, had a statutory right to be inside polling places. They were trained specifically for the task. There also were many more of them, and they had far more authority than monitors. 

Full Article: Will The New Era Of Limited Federal Monitoring Still Protect Voter Rights? : NPR.

National: Do we need more federal election observers? Why John Lewis says so | CS Monitor

As the election draws closer and the race narrows, there are rising concerns about the integrity of the vote count. For one congressman, that means having more federal observers at polling stations come November. Rep. John Lewis, (D) of Georgia, brings a lifetime of commitment to voting rights to the 2016 election. He was a leader in the civil rights movement and later directed the Voter Education Program, which added 4 million minority voters to election rolls during his tenure. During a roundtable on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, he expressed concern about voter ID laws and decried what he described as, “a deliberate, persistent, systematic effort to make it … more difficult for the disabled, students, seniors, minorities, for poor and rural voters to participate in the democratic process.” Representative Lewis says that having federal election observers in Georgia, Ohio, Florida, Arizona, and maybe other southern states would help prevent discrimination and intimidation. But a change to the Voting Rights Act means that the Justice Department no longer determines which states get election observers. Instead, a federal court has to rule that they are required.

Full Article: Do we need more federal election observers? Why John Lewis says so - CSMonitor.com.

Seychelles: International observers call for reform of electoral commission and regular revision of voter register | Seychelles News Agency

International observers monitoring the Seychelles’ sixth National Assembly election have called for the reform of the electoral commission and regular revision of the voter register for a more credible election. Three international observer missions — SADC-Electoral Observation Mission (SEOM), Electoral Commissions Forum of SADC (ECF-SADC) and an all-women mission from the African Union — presented their preliminary reports Monday. “We find that there is a general lack of confidence in the electoral commission by a range of stakeholders, particularly the opposition and civil society,” said Augustine Mahiga, the head of the SADC Electoral Observation Mission.  Mahiga said that Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean, should consider implementing policy measures to improve confidence in the electoral commission.

Full Article: International observers call for reform of electoral commission and regular revision of voter register - Seychelles News Agency.

Seychelles: International, local observer missions gear up for parliamentary elections | Seychelles News Agency

Two international observer groups – the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union (AU) — have so far confirmed their presence in Seychelles for parliamentary elections set for September 8-10. Two local observer groups — Citizens Democracy Watch Seychelles (CDWS) and the Association for Rights, Information and Democracy (ARID) — are also gearing up for the polls. Headed by the Tanzanian Minister of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, Dr Augustine P Mahinga, the SADC observer mission was launched on Friday at the Avani resort on the western side of the Seychelles main island, Mahé. Dr Mahinga said that the SADC mission is being guided by the revised SADC principles and guidelines governing democratic elections, adopted in 2015. 

Full Article: International, local observer missions gear up for Seychelles' parliamentary elections - Seychelles News Agency.

Editorials: When Poll-Watching Crosses the Line | Jocelyn Benson/Politico

As we near another historic presidential election, the fog of anxiety about the election is returning on a scale we haven’t seen in decades. Donald Trump has repeatedly suggested that the general election may be “rigged” nationwide. He has called on his supporters to monitor the polls on Election Day, and said that voting locations should “have the sheriffs and the police chiefs and everybody watching.” Trump’s running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, doubled down on Trump’s suggestions, telling a New Hampshire audience that “the integrity of ‘one person, one vote’ is at the core of democracy, and that happens one precinct at a time.” Trump and Pence are partly correct: There is great value in having elections monitored. Poll watching helps to preserve an open, transparent democratic process by ensuring that elections are administered in a manner that protects access while inviting scrutiny. Poll observers can ensure the law is followed, provide support for voters and poll workers in navigating often confusing and ever-evolving election regulations. But in nearly a decade of organizing vote-monitoring efforts around the country, I have seen firsthand how volunteer monitors—often positioned as “challengers” at the polls—can intimidate and harass even the most seasoned poll workers and voters, interfere with the process, delay voting, and potentially alter the election’s outcome.

Full Article: When Poll-Watching Crosses the Line - POLITICO Magazine.

National: OSCE rights group requests 500 international observers to monitor US presidential vote | Reuters

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe aims to send 500 international observers to observe November’s US presidential election, a tenfold increase from the number the group deployed in 2012. A coalition of more than 200 US civil rights groups urged the OSCE in a letter released on Tuesday to provide even more than the 500 observers the OSCE requested based on an assessment it conducted in May. The actual observers will be dispatched by the international security and rights organization’s 57 participating states. The letter from the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights said the OSCE’s role was “even more critical” in light of the US Justice Department’s July announcement, first reported by Reuters, that it would deploy election observers to far fewer polling sites this year than in previous elections. Civil rights advocates say voters are more likely to face racial bias at the polls in November than they have in 50 years, because of voting laws that several states passed after the US Supreme Court struck down part of the landmark anti-discrimination 1965 Voting Rights Act three years ago. Supporters of the laws say they are necessary to combat voter fraud.

Full Article: OSCE rights group requests 500 international observers to monitor US presidential vote - The Economic Times.

National: U.S. curtails federal election observers | Reuters

Federal election observers can only be sent to five states in this year’s U.S. presidential election, among the smallest deployments since the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965 to end racial discrimination at the ballot box. The plan, confirmed in a U.S. Department of Justice fact sheet seen by Reuters, reflects changes brought about by the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision to strike down parts of the Act, a signature legislative achievement of the 1960s civil rights movement. Voting rights advocates told Reuters they were concerned that the scaling-back of observers would make it harder to detect and counter efforts to intimidate or hinder voters, especially in southern states with a history of racial discrimination at the ballot box. The Supreme Court ruling undercut a key section of the Act that requires such states to obtain U.S. approval before changing election laws. The court struck down the formula used to determine which states were affected. By doing so, it ended the Justice Department’s ability to select voting areas it deemed at risk of racial discrimination and deploy observers there, the fact sheet said.

Full Article: Exclusive: U.S. curtails federal election observers | Reuters.

Thailand: Election Monitor Fumes Over Being Barred from Thai Referendum | Khaosod

After waiting months for official accreditation, the head of a nonpartisan domestic election monitoring group said he was dismayed to learn Monday that no Thai organizations would be granted status for the upcoming charter referendum. Pongsak Chan-on of We Watch said allowing foreign organizations but barring Thai groups such as his made no sense and amounted to discrimination. “It’s perplexing. Last week they told us we could still apply. I am very disappointed and don’t understand the rationale. We Watch is not partisan. And if you give the accreditation to international observers, why not recognize Thai observers too? This is a discriminatory practice.” Election Commissioner Somchai Srisutthiyakorn said it might have been a misunderstanding that led We Watch to be believe it might win approval. He said commission officials might have seen its English-language name and mistaken it for an international organization.

Full Article: Thai Election Monitor Fumes Over Being Barred from Thai Referendum.

International: How Election Monitors Are Failing | Foreign Policy

In Uganda, heated controversy still surrounds President Museveni’s re-election with just over 60 percent of the vote two months ago. At a press conference on February 20, the European Union election observation mission presented its preliminary report on how the election had been conducted. The controversy surrounding the race, and the claim by the opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) that the polls had been rigged, ensured a charged atmosphere. But despite finding that the number of votes it counted did not correspond to the official results in 20 percent of observed polling stations, the mission refused to answer a question about whether the elections were “free and fair.” Instead, they pulled their punches, directing the audience to read the report “and draw their own conclusions.” International election observation missions — when small teams of foreign nationals are sent to watch over elections under the auspices of groups such as the European Union, African Union and the Carter Center — are intended to deter foul play and ensure free and fair polls. In practice, these monitors are not generally known for toughness or frank criticism.

Full Article: How Election Monitors Are Failing | Foreign Policy.

Serbia: Elections Deemed Fair Despite Irregularities | Balkan Insight

The international election observation mission led by the OSCE and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, PACE, on Monday declared that the elections in Serbia were generally conducted in accordance with the law, but admitted problematic issues at polling stations. “The design of the voting screens and the layout of the PSs [polling stations] did not ensure the secrecy of the vote, which is not in line with OSCE commitments and other international obligations and standards,” an official statement said. The OSCE/PACE mission said it had received reports about the intimidating presence of members of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party, SNS, in and around some polling stations.

Full Article: Serbian Elections Deemed Fair Despite Irregularities :: Balkan Insight.

United Kingdom: EU referendum vote could be overseen by ‘international monitors’ | Daily Express

It means this nation, which has just celebrated the 700th anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta, could be faced with the humiliating prospect of joining the ranks of Russia and Azerbaijan in having independent experts ensure fairness. Concerns will be raised at a meeting of the Council of Europe, a human rights organisation of 47 member nations which predates the EU, when it convenes on Monday. The call, by Tory MP Nigel Evans, was partly prompted by the Government’s decision to spend £9m of taxpayers’ money on pro-EU leaflets. Speaking to the Sunday Express, the MP for Ribble Valley said: “The Council has great expertise in monitoring elections – in a week’s time, I will be monitoring elections in Serbia.

Full Article: EU referendum vote could be overseen by 'international monitors' | Politics | News | Daily Express.

Chad: AU: Despite Irregularities, Chad Poll Credible | VoA News

Opposition politicians in Chad have claimed fraud during Sunday’s presidential election, but African Union (AU) observers say the poll, while flawed, was fair. Former Malian president and head of the AU observer mission to Chad, Diouncounda Traore, said issues included the late opening of polling stations in hard-to-access areas and poorly trained polling officers. He said he doesn’t know what will happen after the proclamation of the results, but the AU is urging all candidates and their followers to accept the verdict. He said those who are not satisfied with the results should contest them in the courts. Kamalloh Salifou Tourabi, leader of the Pan African Institute for Election Assistance observer mission, said that despite irregularities, voter participation was estimated at 85 percent. The opposition said there was fraud, including ballot stuffing.

Full Article: AU: Despite Irregularities, Chad Poll Credible.

Nauru: Election monitors ‘would need to be invited’ | The Guardian

The Pacific Islands Forum is “in consultation” with the government of Nauru over its forthcoming election but would need to be invited to send electoral monitors. This week the two former presidents, Marcus Stephen and Sprent Dabwido, accused the government of trying to manipulate the election. Among their grievances were new laws that require a candidate to pay $2,000 – a 20-fold increase in the entry fee – and to resign their public service job three months before polling day. This meant “the current government will be the only one who can afford to run an election campaign”, Dabwido told Guardian Australia.

Full Article: Nauru election monitors 'would need to be invited' | World news | The Guardian.

Vanuatu: More than 200,000 vote in snap election after bribery scandal | ABC

More than 200,000 voters across Vanuatu have cast their ballots in a snap election that international observers have described as successful despite challenges in the lead-up to the polls. The country’s Parliament was dissolved in November by President Baldwin Lonsdale after 14 MPs, including a former prime minister, were jailed for bribery. The political breakdown in Port Vila followed a period of instability with four changes of prime ministers in the past four years. A total of 264 candidates are vying for 53 seats, with foreign election observers remaining in Vanuatu until Monday.

Full Article: Vanuatu election: More than 200,000 vote in snap election after bribery scandal - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).

Vanuatu: After half of government MPs jailed for corruption, Vanuatu votes in snap election | ABC

Voters in Vanuatu go to the polls on Friday for a snap general election called after 14 government MPs were jailed for corruption. A total of 264 candidates, standing in 52 seats, have had little more than seven weeks to campaign. Most are members of 36 political parties, many of which have formed in the lead-up to the election. There are still more than 50 independents in the mix. Observers have said one of the issues with the snap poll was that there were thousands of dead people still eligible to vote — some reports claiming as many as 55,000 registered voters were no longer alive.

Full Article: Vanuatu votes in snap election after half of government MPs jailed for corruption - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).