UPDATE: U.S. Rep. Connie Mack IV, who has called for the U.S. to end funding of the United Nations, today announced that the international peacekeeping organization should be "kicked off U.S. soil" and "defunded."
The incident that sparked his outrage was an announcement by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe that it will send 44 observer to polling places around the country on Election Day to monitor potential disputes at polling places. The organization is registered as an NGO with United Nations but the U.N. is not involved in monitoring elections in the U.S.
The request for voting day monitoring came from the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the NAACP and the ACLU, among other groups. They warned in a letter to the OSCE of “a coordinated political effort to disenfranchise millions of Americans — particularly traditionally disenfranchised groups like minorities.”
Mack, who is chairman of the House Western Hemisphere Subcommittee, said “Every American should be outraged by this news,'' and concluded that "the only ones who should ever oversee American elections are Americans.”
His campaign said in a statement that U.N. monitoring "should be reserved for third-world countries, banana republics and fledgling democracies."
Scott Simpson, of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the organization that brokered the meeting, called Mack's attempt to link the U.N. to the group irresponsible.
"They have no formal relationship to the U.N. at all,'' he said. He said the OSCE was founded after the Cold War to promote democratization and civil society in the former Soviet Union and to which the U.S. is a charter member. It has experience monitoring elections across the globe and was brought in to monitor voter suppression allegations in the U.S., particularly in states such as Colorado, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin, he said.
"They know exactly what the standards should be and are as close to a non-biased position as there should be,'' he said.
The organization acknowledged that it does not have jurisdiction over U.S. elections but has been invited to participate in various states.
Here's Mack's full statement:
“The very idea that the United Nations – the world body dedicated to diminishing America’s role in the world -- would be allowed, if not encouraged, to install foreigners sympathetic to the likes of Castro, Chavez, Ahmadinejad, and Putin to oversee our elections is nothing short of disgusting.
“For years the United Nations has aggressively worked against the best interests of our country and many of our allies. The UN’s actions and intentions toward the United States have been nothing short of reprehensible."
Here is the statement from Wayne Henderson, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights:
“America serves as a beacon of democracy for the world. And by hosting a contingent of unbiased international observers, we are showing the world that our election can be a model of transparency and integrity.
"During the last several years, there has been an unprecedented and sophisticated level of coordination to restrict voting rights in our nation. These efforts, including photo ID requirements, limits on community-based and same day registration, shortened early voting periods, and proof of citizenship requirements, undermine our democracy, particularly for students, seniors, naturalized immigrants, and people of color. Reports that True the Vote and other groups intend to place one million people at polling locations across the country to intimidate and challenge voters are equally concerning.
"Sharing the concerns of civil rights groups with the OSCE has never been more important because shining a light on these efforts is critical to ensuring that everyone’s vote counts. The OSCE needs to know how sophisticated and pervasive these efforts are so it can be prepared to recognize voter suppression when it happens.The Department of Justice and civil rights groups have fought back against these efforts, but there is more to be done. Our elections must be monitored by American organizations, the federal government, and international observers to ensure that we live up to our role as the world’s greatest democracy.
"Having unbiased observers at the polls ensures the legitimacy, integrity, and transparency of our election. OSCE observers only report back their findings – they do not intervene in the election and have no standing to do so. For Americans who are proud of their democracy, this is an opportunity to show the world that we won’t tolerate voter intimidation, fraud, or suppression.
"We welcome the OSCE’s presence and hope that the American people pay close attention to its findings.”