October 31, 2012
Iowa has joined Texas in warning international election observers of possible criminal prosecution if they violate state laws and get near polling places on Election Day.
Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz — like Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott last week — on Tuesday threatened Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe election observers with arrest if they came within 300 feet of a polling place’s entrance, in violation of state law. (In Texas, it’s 100 feet.)
“My office met with two delegation representatives last week to discuss Iowa’s election process, and it was explained to them that they are not permitted at the polls,” Schultz said in a statement. “Iowa law is very specific about who is permitted at polling places, and there is no exception for members of this group.”
The OSCE — comprised of 56 countries, including the United States — is chiefly a crisis mediation and conflict resolution group in Europe, Asia and North America. Since 2002, the organization’s poll watchers have observed six U.S. elections, without incident, said Janez Lenari, the OSCE’s director for the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights.