Fox News hosts and contributors are manufacturing panic over the arrival of election monitors from the UN-affiliated Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), insinuating that they will interfere with the November 6 election. But the OSCE has monitored elections in the United States since 2002, without any complaints that they meddled in the election.
As Think Progress has noted, the observers are coming at the invitation of the State Department after a number of civil rights organizations requested their presence due, in part, to new voter ID laws that threaten to disenfranchise young, minority, and elderly voters.
Several days earlier, the Drudge Report and Fox Nation highlighted a story from The Hill about the presence of international election monitors arriving for the 2012 election. On Tuesday, Fox News' evening shows began fearmongering about the observers.
During Tuesday's edition of The O'Reilly Factor, Fox host Kimberly Guilfoyle called the election monitoring "meddling of a bizarre nature," and said there are "members from terrorist countries that are amongst" the election monitors. On Wednesday, conservative radio host Dennis Miller -- who has a regular segment on the Factor -- claimed that the OSCE monitors are "going to make sure Jews don't vote." On both nights, O'Reilly imagined a scenario of New Black Panther members assaulting the observers.
On Thursday, Fox Business host Lou Dobbs highlighted Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott's threat to arrest the OSCE observers if they come near or enter a polling place, summing it up as: "Don't mess with Texas."
On Friday, Fox News contributor Dick Morris released a video claiming that election monitoring and other UN actions might figuratively constitute a UN coup d'etat. Morris stated:
The threat we face is from the United Nations. Now, I'm not literally suggesting that black helicopters are going to land on the Rose Garden and blue-helmeted UN troops are going to do a coup d'etat. But figuratively speaking, that is a metaphor for what's going on at this point. Just two weeks ago, or last week, the United Nations announced -- get this -- they are going to send monitors to observe elections in the United States to determine that our elections are fair and free.
This unwarranted wave of panic is undermined by the fact that the OSCE has been monitoring U.S. elections by invitation since 2002. Conservatives are upset that OSCE representatives recently met with civil liberties groups concerned about voter suppression, even though that is not the organization's primary mission. An October 20 report from The Hill explains:
The observers, from countries such as Germany, France, Serbia, Belarus, Ukraine and Kazakhstan, will observe voting at polling places and other political activity.
"They [will] observe the overall election process, not just the ballot casting," said Giovanna Maiola, spokeswoman for OSCE. "They are focusing on a number of areas on the state level, including the legal system, election administration, the campaign, the campaign financing [and] new voting technologies used in the different states."
In a follow-up e-mail, Maiola noted that it is a limited election-observation mission. She said "the OSCE has regularly been invited to observe elections in the United States, in line with OSCE commitments."
The OSCE has 56 participating states from Europe, Central Asia and North America, including the United States and Canada. It has assessed elections in the United States since 2002.