The Texas attorney general warned the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe that its election observers could be arrested and criminally charged if they come within 100 feet of a polling place on Election Day.
In a Tuesday letter to the OSCE, Attorney General Greg Abbott said the observers have no jurisdiction in Texas.
“While it remains unclear exactly what your monitoring is intended to achieve, or precisely what tactics you will use to achieve the proposed monitoring, OSCE has stated publicly that it will visit polling stations on Election Day as part of its monitoring plan,” Abbott wrote.
“In April, you reportedly met with a group of organizations that have filed lawsuits challenging election integrity laws enacted by the Texas Legislature. One of those organizations, Project Vote, is closely affiliated with ACORN, which collapsed in disgrace after its role in a widespread voter-registration fraud scheme was uncovered.”
Abbott said OSCE has called voter-identification laws a barrier to the right to vote.
A federal appeals court in August court struck down Texas’ voter identification law, saying it disenfranchises minorities and the poor.
The law, enacted by the Republican-dominated Legislature in 2011, required Texas voters to provide with photo identification, which was limited to a driver’s license, personal identification card or concealed handgun license issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety, a U.S. passport, a U.S. military ID or a U.S. citizenship certificate.
Abbott, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and the Legislature claims the law was needed to prevent voter fraud.
Abbott wrote to the OSCE: “The OSCE may be entitled to its opinions about Voter ID laws, but your opinion is legally irrelevant in the United States, where the Supreme Court has already determined that Voter ID laws are constitutional. 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 to protect the integrity of elections. However, groups and individuals from outside the United States are not allowed to influence or interfere with the election process in Texas.”
Abbott’s letter concludes: “It may be a criminal offense for OSCE’s representatives to maintain a presence within 100 feet of a polling place’s entrance. Failure to comply with these requirements could subject the OSCE’s representatives to criminal prosecution for violating state law.”
The OSCE, based in Vienna, Austria, is a multinational group with particular interest in arms control, border management, human trafficking, elections and education, according to its website.