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More than 100 OSCE observers to deploy to the U.S. for the 3 November elections

Some 100 election observers from the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly will deploy later this month to the United States for the 3 November general elections. They will work with about 40 long-term observers and experts from the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights who are already in the country and deliver a joint assessment following election day. The mission will mark the eighth time the PA has observed the vote in the U.S. since 2004.

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German parliamentarian Michael Georg Link has been appointed to lead the OSCE short-term observer mission and deliver the statement of preliminary findings and conclusions at a press conference in Washington on 4 November. Norwegian parliamentarian Kari Henriksen will lead the OSCE PA mission, which includes some 80 members of parliament from 30 countries. They will work closely with ODIHR’s Head of Mission, Ambassador Urszula Gacek (Poland), and its core team of 11 experts based in Washington, DC, and 30 long-term observers around the country.

“As international observers, we do not bring any pre-conceived notions to our work,” said Link. “We apply the same standards and methodology that we do in all countries where we observe elections, evaluating them on the basis of their adherence to a set of democratic standards that the United States and all OSCE countries have agreed to. We look forward to returning to the United States this year to observe this historic election and offer our honest assessment.”

Link is a former Director of ODIHR who now serves as Vice-Chair of the PA’s Committee on Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Questions. Henriksen, who serves as Vice-President of the OSCE PA and as Rapporteur of the human rights committee, noted that the COVID-19 pandemic poses great challenges but stressed that the PA is taking every necessary precaution to protect the health of observers, voters, and election officials.

“Safety is our top priority,” Henriksen said. “All of our observers will take COVID tests before deploying to the United States and will follow all relevant guidelines and requirements to ensure our safety as well as the safety of those we come in contact with. Although the pandemic presents some obstacles, I am confident we can conduct a full and robust observation mission.”

Observers will pay particular attention to the campaign environment, the legal framework, election administration, new voting technologies, mail-in voting, election day procedures, and media coverage. Following the 2016 elections, observers concluded that the elections were highly competitive and fundamental freedoms were respected, but that the campaign was characterized by personal attacks and intolerant rhetoric.

The OSCE PA observers will participate in two days of briefings in Washington before deploying to a number of states around the country for election day observation.

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