Russia Mad It Can't Hang Around US Polling Places

Russian officials wanted to monitor the election in TX, LA, and OK
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 21, 2016 4:16 PM CDT
Russia Wants to Send Election Monitors to US Polling Places
An elections clerk cuts from a strip of "I Voted" stickers at a polling place in Oklahoma City. Officials in Oklahoma, Texas, and Louisiana say they've denied a request by Russian officials to be present at polling stations during next month's election.   (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

Russia apparently wanted to send officials to monitor the Nov. 8 US election in three states and is very upset it was turned down, USA Today reports. Russian officials sent requests to Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas asking to be allowed to have monitors at polling locations there. According to Politico, those three are among the 12 US states that have laws on the books that prohibit foreign observers from being at polling places. Texas and Oklahoma cited those laws in their rejections of the request—which Russian officials called "very harsh"—while Louisiana blamed recent flooding and said it would be happy to reconsider in 2020. This apparently didn't go over too well, and Russian state-sponsored media is now blaming the US State Department.

One Russian lawmaker is accusing the US of "suffering from some sort of persecutory delusion," saying the US imagines "that Russians want to distort their elections." But so far, that's exactly what it appears Russia has been trying to do this year, a former Pentagon official says: "Russia has forfeited the role of independent observer." Meanwhile State Department spokesperson Mark Toner reiterates it's up to individual states if they allow foreign officials to monitor elections and calls this "nothing more than a PR stunt" from Russia. US elections are typically monitored by foreign officials as part of a multilateral group, such as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. But Russia refused to participate in the OSCE this year. And as Slate puts it, Russia deciding it needs to monitor US elections on its own has "such an obvious agenda." (Read more Russia stories.)

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