Compliance of the U.S. citizens’ voting rights

Compliance of the U.S. citizens' voting rights

Election of the President of the United States — not direct, not universal, not equal, do not provide secrecy of voting. In this connection, it is strongly recommend to my opponents see the conclusions of all missions Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights Election Observation in the U.S. since 2002.


U.S. Elections

OSCE ODIHR observed the national elections in the United States, on 5 November 2002 (general election to the U.S. Congress), 2 November 2004 (the elections of the President of the United States), November 7, 2006 (mid-term elections in the U.S. Congress), 4 November 2008 ( general elections in the U.S. Congress and the U.S. President), 2 November 2010 (mid-term elections in the U.S. Congress). They are the American authorities from time to time it is recommended to solve the problem of excessive and disproportionate restriction of active electoral rights of entire categories of American citizens. Unfortunately, over the past ten years, significant changes for the better or not. Because the U.S. has taken on the role of "Arbiter", the state of the electoral system and the provision of electoral rights of citizens go far beyond the purely internal problem of the United States. Let's try to briefly examine some of the key issues.

The electoral system. The American experience in the conduct of the election is unique: more than 18,000 elected positions of the U.S. President to the sheriff of rural communities, but the flip side of this experience is the complexity, decentralization, politicization, lack of transparency, and finally, a partial archaic electoral processes.

It is believed that on November 6 this year the American people will elect their president. In fact elect the head of state, endowed with greater powers will not the people, but only a very limited number of so-called electoral college. Thus, the president will be chosen not U.S. citizens, and the one who will determine 270. In this case, the electors can not support the candidate, for whom "mandated" to vote. In general, the right of American citizens to elect their president can speak with great reserve, and on the right of the average American to be named at all, however.

The report, "The segregation of American citizens: the disenfranchisement of Hispanics in 2012," the human rights organization Advancement Project states that the electoral politics of many federal entities of the United States threatens the participation of millions of people — Hispanics in the November presidential election. According to the organization, in 23 states legislative discriminatory barriers may impede the registration and voting more than 10 million Spanish-speaking U.S. citizens. American human rights activists rightly believe that laws restricting the right to vote, undermine naturalized in the United States of minority citizens to "second class" compared to the "white" and undermine the possibility of their participation in the overall democratic development of the country.

The electoral law. In the U.S., has a decentralized system of organization and conduct of federal elections, each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia and six territories have separate legislation on the U.S. presidential election. The differences in the regulatory legislation and procedures exist even among the districts of the same state. In this case, a significant amount of features electoral bodies legally entrusted to the bodies of the executive authority of the state and the legal regulation of campaign candidates virtually nonexistent.

The last presidential elections were held in 2008, and the introduction of legal innovations began only in 2011. To date, 41 different instances made the state a minimum of 180 draft laws toughening of voting citizens. Another 27 of the laws of this kind are pending in six states. Adopted 25 laws and issued two executive orders that affect the electoral process in 19 states (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin).

Of these 17 states (Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin) have passed laws limiting which, according to political analysts, can affect the results of the election on 6 November. These city states collectively push the 218 electors, that is, almost 80 percent needed for election of the President of the United States.

The election administration. The obvious disadvantage of the American electoral system, international observers say the lack of a centralized independent body to conduct the election, which is one of the reasons for the numerous violations of electoral rights of citizens.

In accordance with the laws of the United States engaged in the organization of the voting power of the states and other territorial entities. Based on these features, a key tool in the use of dubious electoral technologies at the level of individual states can act (and act) authorities in the field, which have the primary responsibility for the formation of election commissions, the voting and the announcement of its results.

According to the American press, now the Republican Party of the U.S. has a few more features than the Democratic Party. So, Republicans control 29 governorships compared to 20 for the Democrats. The advantage of the Republicans is that of the nine "swing" states in only two — North Carolina and Colorado — governorships held by Democrats. In addition, it is believed that M. Romney supporters have an advantage in the use of administrative resources in Florida, Ohio, Iowa and Virginia in favor of the Republicans.

Registration of voters. With numerous violations of civil rights in the United States by the U.S. and the registration of voters.
At the beginning of 2012, one in five American adults was not listed on the voter list, information about the 24 million voters are not accurate. Many Americans forget when moving to file a change of address information, and 2.75 million people registered in several states. There are instances when they are registered in six. The lists also, there are about 1.8 million "dead souls" (according to the newspaper USA TODAY on Feb. 14, 2012). For the confirmation of the vulnerability of the system of voter registration in the state of New Hampshire in the Republican primaries in 2012 a group of activists without presenting any documents received ballots in the names of a few who were registered, but already deceased members of the Democratic Party and has recorded this video shooting. In January 2012, the Attorney General of South Carolina asked to consider the facts, according to which more than 900 dead Americans "voted" in the 2010 election in the state.
Voter lists is governed by local law, and each state has its own way. According to the OSCE ODIHR, who worked in America at the beginning of 2012, about 51 million American voters have been registered for the upcoming elections. Overall, 4.1 million citizens who live outside the United States, can not vote. More than 5 million former prisoners continue to be deprived of voting rights because of prohibitive legislation or cumbersome procedures to restore their rights.

Voter identification documents. As is known, the U.S. has no internal passports, they can be replaced, for example, driver's license, in connection
with which the country lacks a unified approach to the issue of identification of citizens to the polling station.

In the 19 states in the areas of the voters did not ask identity card, but just cross-checked with the lists in 16 regions of the country are allowed to do with the document without a photograph.
According to statistics from 11 million Americans, mostly poor, there is no certificate with a photograph and the idea of mandatory filing for eligibility to vote of any official document with a photograph is a sharp debate in the United States. On this approach, insisting Republicans, while the Democrats are staunchly opposed to them.
In 15 states, where the need to present a personal document with a photograph, citizens are denied the right to vote, even if they are on the list. In itself, the introduction of a single identification document in order to vote is a logical step in only if does not lead to a breach of a number of legal rights of Americans that sometimes occurs because, for example, in some states, the only office for the issuance of this document is only every the fifth Wednesday of the month.

Vulnerability of personal data. The growing concern of the American public insecurity confidential information about the political preferences of the voters once again confirmed in the course of monitoring the vote in the primaries in 2012.

For example, the data on party affiliation are stored in electronic form. They are available most voters, as well as employees of the county and state governments.
Based on these data, the party headquarters monitor the dynamics of the growth in the number of their supporters. Ironically, the said official statistics is not considered parties as sensitive data on voters. So, in 2008, on the day of voting in the state of South Dakota secretary of the district election commission said that in Hughes County to participate in the election of November 4, 2008 in the list of local registered 11,162 voters, of which 2,940 — supporters of the Democrats, 6935 — Republicans 14 — libertarians and 1274 — the supporters of the "independent". And at a polling station in Davie County (South Dakota) on the desktop Commission was printed version of the full list of voters from the county designated it a roll-call data on party affiliation (accessories).

In the U.S., there is no political party membership. Similar data have been reproduced in printed voter list on this site. In the absence of reliable telephone connection with the administration of the county PEC were asked in such a way to make the establishment of voter identification. On the same stretch of observers recorded a separate list of voters under "inactive voters" also indicating their party sympathies. Copies of these lists were available and at the disposal of national NGOs to observe the elections in this sector, it was available to all voting.

Early voting. Numerous violations of the rights of voters regularly allowed during early voting, which in itself is a problem in the electoral system and is, in particular, that during the period of early voting "in the country are very important events, in particular, the debate candidates presidents, which could affect the will of the voter, but it can not, as he had already given their vote early. "

However, in the last few years in the United States made a concerted effort to significantly improve the ability of voters to vote not only in the traditional first Tuesday (after the first Monday) in November, but at a more convenient time and format. Consequently, the possibility of an early vote required by law 32 states. In addition, throughout the United States allowed absentee voting by mail, in which is very difficult to trace the fate of a sent newsletter.

Currently, 21 states voters must explain — to prove that the election day they will be out of town, busy at work, can not come to the polling station for family reasons or medical reasons. In 27 states you can vote early by mail without giving any reasons. In two states — Oregon and Washington, in general there are no open polling stations, the elections are conducted by mail. And all ballots must be received by the election commission before closing the day of voting, that is, virtually all of the residents voted in advance (email is a few days).

Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Housmann conducted research on early voting. As a result, he has revealed numerous violations of the law in more than 10 districts of the state during the local elections in 2011. D. Housmann noted that in the 21 districts the number of "dosrochnikov" in two or more times greater than the average percentage across the state, and in the 101 case does not indicate the reason for the request for an early ballot voting.

According to the same survey in 16 districts of the state were registered more voters than the residents themselves, which in the 2010 census have reached voting age.

Voting rights of American citizens are violated and if you use another form of voting — confidence vote when the voter chooses a trustee and instructs him power of attorney to vote for themselves.

The Pentagon, for example, provides almost 100 percent turnout troops to the polls and vote on them is held under the supervision of officers.

Accounting and counting of votes. In the United States actively introduced electronic voting system. In the U.S. technical devices not designed for printing or any other documentary evidence of citizen participation in the electoral process. Moreover, their software announced a trade secret and not be controlled, which in principle allows operators of such systems to reset or rewrite to vote in favor of one candidate or another, leaving no trace violations.
In Maryland, even conducted an experiment on the breaking of such computers. Experts easily hacked system, cooked the results, but faced with the fact that the manufacturer Diebold machines still declared the result of successful writing off all the "flaws" in the "inevitable growing pains." Everything that happened is simple: the owners of Diebold openly supported Republicans, including finances.

It is no accident in the United States is still widely believed that in 2004 the Bush team is actively resorted to vote rigging with electronic voting systems.
Since the early 2000s, ODIHR experts constantly point out the problem of voting in the United States using the electronic machines. This failure to comply with the secrecy of voting, and the need for a proper account of the results of a paper ballot with the possibility of a mechanical inspection, and ensuring transparency of the electronic machines, and issues of public confidence in the technical means voting with the ability to obtain the codes, software, and independent testing of electronic machines, and the introduction of the possibility of translation votes cast at a minimum difference of votes, and more.

However, none of these problems in the United States at the Federal level persists.

Judicial protection of the right to vote. U.S. officials prefer to avoid public discussion of violations of electoral rights of citizens. In fact, a substantive discussion of violations of election laws and the United States voting rights of Americans are now not beyond the activity of bloggers on the Internet. However, despite the apparent value of blogging as an important means of communication and source of information gathered witnesses, given the facts on the U.S. authorities did not make any formal proceedings or judicial appeals.

One of the most popular bloggers in America follows assessed the situation: "We see reports of fraud in the elections in other countries, but never seriously think that this could happen here in the scale large enough to change the outcome of the election. This is America, we say to ourselves, this simply can not happen here ".

Election observation. Monitoring the presidential and parliamentary elections in the U.S. are mainly carried out by observers (poll watchers) from candidates and political parties. In problematic from the point of view of the rights of minority regions are connected to this activity, local NGOs (about 100) that are part of the coalition "Protection of the election" (Election Protection Coalition). Apart from observing the vote, these organizations help voters to go to specialized commissions and courts with complaints of violations of their rights.

Status of U.S. NGO activists at the ballot remains uncertain. Under the laws of some states of the local human rights defenders are allowed to be present during the voting and counting of votes. In other regions, the permission applies only to the first or second stage.

In many states, the law generally avoids the question of national observers, regulation and supervision, as in the case of foreigners, is left to the discretion of the election commissions.

The rules that govern the operation of public election observers, contradictory. In the 39 states of the U.S., they have the right to challenge the legality of citizen participation in elections at a polling station on election day right. As a rule, it must be done in writing or under oath. Despite the fact that the observer must have "reasonable grounds" to challenge the rights of voters, only 15 states have to prove their validity.

There are cases where some public organizations and publicly accused without evidence of illegal voters voted. So, in May 2012 in the state of North Carolina conservative observer J. O'Keefe videotaped "suspicious" persons at the entrance to the polling station with subsequent placement of video on the Internet, for which, however, was later prosecuted for libel.

In general, the current monitoring in the United States by the civil society organization for the will of the citizens attached to the two-party system, guided by local customs rather than law. It is fragmentary and is affected by the election commissions, which often leads not to the defense, and vice versa — a violation of electoral rights of American citizens, including free expression and secrecy of the vote.

International election observation. For the majority of American citizens participation of representatives of foreign governments in monitoring the ballot for election to the United States is still a kind of exotic, but in many constituencies of the international obligations the United States in the electoral sphere just do not know.
Currently only in the states of Missouri, South Dakota and New Mexico, as well as the District of Columbia have laws that allow access of foreign observers during the elections. In other regions, the question of the activity of foreign observers is the responsibility of local authorities.

The National Association of Secretaries of State of the states in 2010 adopted a resolution inviting international observers from the OSCE to come to the United States with monitoring missions. In past years, members of such missions were repeatedly denied access to polling stations, even in districts that were "open" to foreign observers.
Very telling is that the United States never had a full-fledged OSCE missions. In this case, the ODIHR OSCE has repeatedly urged the U.S. government to take action to comply with its international obligations, including securing the rights of international observers, their ability to be present at the voting and vote counting operation of law, and not at the discretion of the organizers and leaders of local polling stations. President of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Todd Jealousy events described in 2012 as follows: "For over a century the United States had not seen such a broad attack on the voting rights of man." The Minister of Justice was forced to agree with the requirement of the association and to invite representatives of the UN on this presidential election.

The use of electoral political strategies. It is well known that the United States is home to various electoral political strategies, and not always fair.
In the presidential election of 1864, which was Abraham Lincoln, was born, as we might say today, "black PR": cartoons have appeared in newspapers on the Democrats, put them outright traitors, was fabricated and propagated in the amount of 100,000 copies of the text of the secret agreement between the Peace Democrats and Confederates, which was distributed in the form of a pamphlet exclusively to citizens who sympathize with the Democratic Party.

In addition, in various forms and are widely used administrative resources, particularly in the military during the vote.

As a result of all the contrivances for Abraham Lincoln voted 55 percent of voters and 78 percent of the electoral college (in electoral college votes are 212 as against 21).

In the further development of the electoral technologies has contributed to "Tammany Hall" — the political organization of the Democratic Party in New York, which arose on the basis established in 1789 by William Mooney Society of St.. Tammany (named after a legendary Indian chief), speaking at the time against the aristocracy and actively supported Jefferson.

In 1808, the Company has built in New York, a hall, called "Tammany Hall." Later it turned into a political machine for candidates for elected positions of the Democratic Party, which became famous for numerous cases of bribery, gangsterism, embezzlement of public funds by the bosses of the organization for many years held in his hands the executive power of the city and state of New York.

It should be noted that the practice of televised debates began in America with the famous debates Kennedy and Richard Nixon September 26, 1960. From now on, the leader of the country had to take care not only about the credibility and logical order of his speeches, but also about the color of his tie, and the presence on his face radiant smile on the representation of the public integrity of their personal family life and political activity.

Along the way, on TV twisted family paid advertising — brief transmission "for a cup of coffee at Kennedy." The viewer got a warm and prosperous atmosphere of the "typical American house" and a "typical American family": Mom Rosie deftly knits on the needles and answers questions housewives, younger children touching and obedient, John himself with a pleasant smile on his lips from time to time is in the background Plan. Unobtrusive but recognizable. This show came up with his brother Bobby. Proper use of TV has decided the outcome of the 1960 election, in which Kennedy defeated his opponent with a minimum score, gaining 50.5 percent of the vote in Massachusetts.

As for other forms of political and social advertising, the first political icons also appeared in America still under George Washington and looked like uniformed buttons. One of the ways of expression of electoral sympathies, was wearing a party functionaries and supporters of political parties tapes with portraits of candidates or drawings on a patriotic theme. Not so long ago there was a new trend — the use of virtual images of the icons on the internet — web buttons, where users can post them on personal websites and thus to express sympathy for their candidate. It is significant that until 1972 "Znachkova" pre-election campaign was only in English. However, since the Nixon campaign icons appear for minorities: Poles, Armenians, Estonians, etc.

The pressure on the off-grid "third" parties and forcing employees subordinate to the "right vote" has become the hallmark of the current presidential election campaign in the United States. Jill E. Stein (Jill Ellen Stein) — officially registered candidate for President of
the United States from the dwarf, "Green Party" — was arrested on 16 October this year while trying to hold a "sit-in protest" in front of the venue of the debate between Barack Obama and M. Romney in the suburbs of New York. Ecologist protested against non-members of the "third parties" to participate in the debates (in 2008, they were voted 2 million American citizens). Police filed J. Stein charged with violating public order, and an elderly American woman for eight hours are spent at the police station in handcuffs, although such treatment does not correspond to the gravity of the offense — obstructing public transport, especially since no vehicles on the street at that time was not because of the overlapping movement Secret Service.

In accordance with the criminal code of New York candidate of the "green" faces up to 15 days or a fine of up to $ 250. In the more "strict" states it could get up to years of imprisonment.

American human rights activists are fixed and other examples of pressure to "third parties" that are actually excluded from the political process through the establishment of a variety of administrative barriers (a more stringent registration, higher rates for advertising, etc.). Representatives of these parties (in the current election campaign, in addition to participating libertanets J. Stein G. Johnson and ultra-conservative B. Goode) are gaining a maximum of 1-2 per cent, but in terms of rating equality between Barack Obama and M. Romney can play the role of "spoilers" for the leaders of the presidential race.

This situation creates more problems for the Republicans (it is on their "field" play Johnson and Hood) than for Democrats, hampered by J. Stein. Supporters M. Romney in several states are trying to prevent competitors to participate in the elections, while not disdaining to act on the brink of a foul. For example, in Pennsylvania, they hired a private detective to check the validity of signatures for Johnson. Someone posing as an FBI agent, which in itself is an offense threatened signature collectors of prosecution for fraud.

During the current election campaign in the United States, a widespread practice, when the owners of the enterprises actually forced workers to vote for the right candidate. Thus, the owners of the conglomerate "Koch Indusrties" brothers Charles and David Kohi, who are the main sponsors of the ultra-conservative "Tea Party", sent their lists of 50 thousand employees' right candidates. " The letter says that the choice — a private affair citizen, but contained an unequivocal "warning-stimulus": in the case of the Obama victory inevitable dismissal. Similar in content and direction of the documents sent to his subordinates fellow Republicans owners of the hotel chain "Westgate Resorts" and the computer company "ASG Software Solutions".

These facts appear to represent only a small — the visible part of a huge iceberg of dirty technologies and outright violation of electoral rights of American citizens.

To summarize, it should be stated that all the 223 year history of the organization and holding of democratic elections in the United States (the first presidential elections took place in 1789) are replete with examples of violation of electoral rights of American citizens. These facts represent only a small part of them, and are a clear testimony that the electoral system and electoral laws of the United States are far from perfect. They are contradictory, archaic, and, moreover, does not meet the democratic principles that are fundamental in the United States proclaimed its foreign and domestic policy.

It is my firm conviction that an unbiased observer will be able to once again see this in the course of the U.S. presidential elections in 2012.

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