The Russian government has reportedly requested access to polling stations in three different states.
One would indeed question Russia’s involvement in the US presidential elections as an official with Russia’s consulate general in Houston conveyed a letter to Oklahoma Secretary of State Chris Benge last month inquiring to have one of its officers present “to study” the US experience in the organization of voting process.
Foreign observers did come to the United States to observe elections before, which means such visits are not rare. However, Russia’s offers came as American officials are investigating attempts by the Kremlin to meddle with the 2016 race.
Earlier this month, the U.S. government officially denounced Russia for seeking to interfere with the electoral process.
Officials from Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Texas informed they had denied the request by Russian officials to be present at polling stations during the Nov. 8 election.
Officials from Oklahoma and Texas have rejected the applications, indicating state laws, while their counterpart in Louisiana reported he would have been open to the appeal during any other year.
“While it would be our honor to extend the chance to observe our voting process, it is forbidden under state law to allow anyone except election officials and voters in or around the area where the voting takes place,” informs Oklahoma Secretary of State, Chris Benge
Texas Secretary of State Carlos H. Cascos acknowledged late last month that Russian observers were not permitted in his state because it is a misdemeanor there for unauthorized people to go inside polling places. Cascos continued that his office may help to set up a meeting for Russian representatives to speak with local election officials in Harris County, home to Houston.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has faced criticism for suggesting the election might be “rigged” and for praising Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Ironically 12 states prevent international observers, as per National Conference of State Legislatures.
In 2012, officials in two of those states — Texas and Iowa — had warned it wouldn’t hesitate to arrest international observers if they approached too close to polling places.