(Washington D.C.) — A coalition of U.S. pro-democracy organizations today petitioned the members of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations for international election observers for the upcoming U.S. presidential election. Coalition representatives today visited the U.S. Embassies of ECOSOC member nations New Zealand, Brazil, Uruguay, Bolivia, France, United Kingdom, and Sweden, and plan to visit ECOSOC offices in New York City tomorrow to request election observers to document violations of American voting rights, to guarantee the election results are tabulated accurately, and to bring the force of international law to the United States to guarantee the human rights of American citizens. They submitted the petition now, they said, in order to place their request on record ahead of the coming Election Day.
“The international community came to the aid of past American movements for civil rights, free speech, and independence. We are asking for the same support today. U.S. elections remain undemocratic and rife with voting rights violations, and international election observers are needed.” said Ben Manski, executive director of the pro-democracy group, Liberty Tree.
The petition points to international covenants, conventions and the Declaration for Human Rights itself as a basis for supporting the right of U.S. citizens to freely choose their president and their right to seek international assistance. The petition points to an often overlooked history of voting rights violations that culminated in the challenged U.S. Presidential elections of 2000 and 2004. Many of these voting rights violations were clearly racially based and directly contravene the U.S.'s signature on the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination.
The attention paid to election problems in the 2004 election was both more extensive and more pre-emptive than in 2000 which increased awareness and helped fuel important election law changes. However, the more flagrant bias in the role of the federal government in election law enforcement priorities and what appears to be continued refinement and condoning of election fraud and voter suppression have probably worsened the situation.
“If nothing else, they must document and expose to the rest of the world – that we cannot guarantee our voting rights, nor even enough integrity in our complicated and partisan system that the 2008 Presidential Election will have integrity, integrity which both the elections of 2000 and 2004 clearly lacked,” states Grace Ross, 2006 Massachusetts Gubernatorial Candidate and long-time human rights activist, who spearheaded a request for UN election observers before the 2004 Presidential Elections.
Kevin Zeese of TrueVote warns that “Problems with voting and registration of voters are being reported in many parts of the United States. We have had two questionable and problem-ridden presidential elections in 2000 and 2004. Americans are losing faith in their democracy and international observers are needed to provide an independent, official review of what is occurring.”
Grace Ross explains: “Hundreds of US based organizations have participated in exposing what happened in 2000 and 2004, sued various bodies of government, fought for legislative remedies, have monitored election changes since and are now organizing extensively to educate voters and put various local protections in place as best they can.”
“Suppose the upcoming processes are as tainted as the last ones?” concluded Ms. Ross, “Many fought for domestic solutions last time, all of those attempts failed – and we are no closer to protecting our voting rights this time. Where then can we turn except to ask the international community to stop these human rights violations in the U.S.?”
Ben Manski of www.NoMoreStolenElections.org
Kevin Zeese of www.TrueVote.US
Grace Ross of www.econhumanrights.org
Dr. Margaret Flowers and Diane Wittner of www.ChesapeakeCitizens.org
Medea Benjamin of www.GlobalExchange.org (NGO with United Nations consultative status)
Summary of Petition to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations for
International Election Observers for the 2008 United States Presidential Election
October 30, 2008
“We, the undersigned non-governmental organizations in the United States, hereby petition the United Nations through the Economic and Social Council for protection of our human rights through provision of election observers and monitors for the upcoming U. S. Presidential election on November 4th, 2008. We request observers to assess the breadth of voting irregularities and document any voting rights violations that may occur during this 2008 presidential election.
In light of the critical importance of the right to representation in our government, guaranteed through U.S., law including documents such as the Bill of Rights and Constitution and legal precedent, United Nations' documents to which the U.S. is a party such as the UN Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, we are requesting international assistance in providing non-partisan witness to the process and assuring to the extent possible universal voting rights for the entire U.S. citizenry this November, 2008.
We are requesting this assistance due to serious concerns regarding enfranchisement in the upcoming 2008 presidential election based both on historical discrimination and exclusion of the rights of certain populations to vote and to have their votes counted. There is broad evidence from both the U.S. Presidential elections of 2000 and 2004, that there were patterns of election fraud, voter suppression and intimidation. The gold standard of predicting the outcome of elections, exit polls, which have continued to be more reliable over time, showed clear victory of the Democratic Candidate in both of these Presidential elections. A much delayed count of all the actual ballots in Florida from the 2000 elections, showed that the Democratic Candidate had in fact won the vote; unfortunately, a complete recount had been denied at the time of the election.
While the world is perhaps most aware of evidence in the state of Florida in 2000 and the state of Ohio in 2004, there are much broader patterns of tampering with the vote that lead numerous election experts and much of the U.S. public to believe that the U.S. may have experienced two illegitimate elections. This, in addition to and potentially informed by historical problems and voting rights violations in previous elections and significant evidence of violations leading up to this 2008 election, give reasons to believe election fraud and voter suppression may be equally or more widespread this election. Sources of possible remedy from within the U.S. to date have been attempted and have been insufficient to protect our rights or the integrity of our elections.
We recognize that the most fundamental purpose of election observers is to verify the fairness of elections. We also recognize that the baseline of international standards for fair voting cannot be met in the U.S. electoral system, which essentially consist of 52 different electoral states each of which is overseen by a politically partisan administration. However, it is the very partisan nature of our oversight that determines the critical need for non-partisan observers from outside our country.
Given the world impact of U.S. elections and our government's stated mission of bringing democracy to the rest of the world, the importance of world scrutiny of the reasonable accuracy of U.S. elections is critical both to the protection of the human rights of the U.S. people and the interests of the rights of many across the world.
No More Stolen Elections!, P.O. Box 260217, Madison, WI 53726-0217 USA
Global Exchange, 2017 Mission Street, 2nd Floor - San Francisco, CA 94110 USA
Liberty Tree, 122 State Street, Suite 405, Madison, WI 53704 USA
TrueVote.US, 2842 N. Calvert St. , Baltimore, MD 21218 USA
Economic Human Rights Project, 10 Oxford St., #2R, Worcester, MA 01609 USA
For the complete petition (PDF), please see:
Ben Manski, Liberty Tree 1(608) 239-6915
Kevin Zeese, True Vote, 1(301) 996-6582
Grace Ross, voting rights activist 1(617) 291-5591
Medea Benjamin, Global Exchange 1(415) 235-6517