Election observers should examine ballots up close, not from behind ropes

The most disturbing ruling of this election season came from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Tuesday. The judges threw out a Trump campaign complaint that poll observers were kept so far away from ballot counting areas that they couldn’t see any details.

The court ruled that officials in Philadelphia did not violate state law by maintaining at least 15  feet of separation between observers and the workers counting ballots.

It said Pennsylvania law only requires that observers be allowed “in the room” where ballots are counted but does not set a minimum distance between them and the counting tables, so it was up to county elections boards to make these decisions.

The ruling makes a mockery of the established best practice of allowing poll observers to literally stand over counters so they can properly view ballots, envelopes and signatures in order to properly raise objections.

Complaints about coronavirus exposure seem to only be directed at Republican poll watchers, as if only they are potential COVID-19 superspreaders.

Election observation, according to the “Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation,” is the “impartial and professional” analysis of systematically gathered information on the conduct of an election.

 U.S.-based non-governmental organizations, such as the Carter Center, the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI), helped draft the Declaration and a model Code of Conduct.

The Carter Center, a non-profit NGO, founded in 1982 by former Democratic President Jimmy Carter and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, in partnership with Emory University, has crafted the gold standard for election observers.

It has established practices which have been used around the world for decades in underdeveloped and developing countries to ensure fair elections.

Documents produced by the Center note repeatedly that observers should generally have “open access to all aspects of the polling, counting, and tabulation of votes.”

It also recommends that polling stations “allow members to conduct their work with sufficient space for voters, party witnesses, and domestic and international observers.”

The Center has also advocated for “transparency and credibility of the voter register and election officials should seek to establish “clear procedures to be followed consistently between polling stations.”

“Effective and tolerant campaigning is essential to a successful democratic process,” the Center urges, and the ability of political parties to properly train and deploy party poll watchers is an important element in ensuring the transparency of the electoral process.

One of the critical indications of a fraudulent election is the lack of transparency in the tallying and results transmission process, according to the Center.

It also seeks to ensure that “electoral complaints and appeals are adjudicated effectively and impartially.” Duplicate or fraudulent registrations should be turned over to the judicial authorities so that the criminal courts can pursue those individuals.

 The Center also carefully monitors “incidents of intimidation and violence” which could mar elections and prevent voters from freely exercising their rights.

The threats against two Republicans on the four-member Board of Canvassers for Wayne County, Michigan, documented on video, should be of great concern to voters in that state.

 The pair were bullied and called racists and their children were doxxed after they refused to certify the election results because they found discrepancies indicating the ballot counts in 71% of the precincts do not match voter rolls.

In Wisconsin, mere hours after the Trump campaign filed a recount petition, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany tweeted late Wednesday, “the Wisconsin Election Commission met to vote on amending the recount manual to make it more difficult to have an accurate recount.”

A full hand recount is supposedly underway in Georgia, but only one credentialed GOP monitor is allowed for each ten counting tables, meaning they can’t really monitor anything.

In Michigan, no Republican was allowed to oversee any counting of ballots at the Cobalt Arena in Detroit. Republicans were thrown out, according to affidavits signed by the 29 people who were ejected.

Republicans in Pennsylvania were also excluded from watching the count of about three hundred thousand ballots in the city of Philadelphia.

Liberals were supposed to believe that “democracy dies in darkness.” They only champion transparency when they aren’t covering up their own malfeasance.”