The inspectors have now given notice it intends to dispatch 57 observers from at least 10 countries to fan out across the United States to ensure the 2012 presidential election is fair. Some of these observers plan to look in on Texas — just to be sure there’s no funny stuff.
Though Texas has a well-deserved reputation for hospitality, they expect visitors to mind their manners. So, to be sure there’s no misunderstanding about behavior appropriate for U.N. observers, on Wednesday, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott sent a letter to the outside inspectors' headquarters.
In that letter, he stated: “If OSCE members want to learn more about our election processes so they can improve their own democratic systems, we welcome the opportunity to discuss the measures Texas has implemented…” But he went on to warn, “… groups of individuals from outside the United States are not allowed to influence or interfere in the election process in Texas.”
Just before I sat down to write this column, the U.N.-affliated inspectors responded. Janez Lenarcic, director of ODI HR announced, “The threat of criminal sanctions against OSCE/ODI HR observers is unacceptable… The United States, like all countries in the OSCE, has an obligation to invite ODI HR observers to observe elections.” Evidently, Monsieur Lenarcic has shared his “grave concerns” about the threat of Texas prosecutions with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Clearly Attorney General Abbott is unimpressed. In an interview with a Reuters reporter, he states, “They act like they may not be subject to Texas law and our goal all along is to make clear to them when they’re in Texas, they’re subject to Texas law and we’re not giving them an exemption.”
So the stage is set. Texas makes it clear that the U.N. team is welcome to visit the state, but violation of Texas law will land somebody in jail. Fair warning. They apparently want to come to Texas unencumbered by the need to obey that law.