Officials in Iowa have threatened to arrest United Nations-backed election monitors if they are near polling places during Election Day next week.
Observers with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) cannot come within 300 feet of polling places, Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz said Tuesday.
“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 obtained by the Politico website.
“Iowa law is very specific about who is permitted at polling places, and there is no exception for members of this group,” he added.
The OSCE, an organization under the U.N., is involved in promoting human rights, press freedom, and fair elections. The group is comprised of 56 participants from around the world, including the United States.
Last week, officials in Texas said that the organization cannot get within 100 feet of polling stations.
Janez Lenar, an OSCE official, said in a statement last week, “Our observers are required to remain strictly impartial and not to intervene in the voting process in any way. They are in the United States to observe these elections, not to interfere in them.”
He described “the threat of criminal sanctions” against its observers as “unacceptable.”
The move prompted the U.S. State Department to warn Texas that it should not arrest observers with the organization.
“To my knowledge, [Texas] is the only state that came forward and said ‘please reassure us that you’re going to follow our state electoral law.’ And they have now been reassured,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said, according to The Hill website.
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