PRESS RELEASES from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe

OSCE begins monitoring of US elections

WASHINGTON, 10 October 2008 - The OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) today opened a limited election observation mission to monitor the 4 November elections in the United States of America.

The deployment of the mission follows an invitation from the United States government. As a participating State of the OSCE, the United States has committed itself to conducting elections in line with OSCE standards and inviting international election observers.

The ODIHR mission, headed by Ambassador Audrey Glover of the United Kingdom, includes a core team of 13 international experts with the head office in Washington, D.C., and 48 long-term observers deployed in teams of two around the country. The observers are drawn from 20 OSCE participating States.

The mission will assess the upcoming elections in the context of OSCE commitments and other international standards for democratic elections, as well as national legislation. The observers will focus mainly on federal legislation and its implementation, election reform issues, the election campaign and the media, electronic voting, access of observers, and other issues including voter registration, voter identification, and voting rights.

The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly will deploy an observation mission to observe election day proceedings. ODIHR long-term observers will also visit polling stations around the country on election day.

ODIHR has observed or assessed a number of elections in the United States, including the 2004 presidential election and the 2002 and 2006 congressional elections.

OSCE PA preparations for US election well under way

COPENHAGEN, 13 October 2008 - OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (PA) Vice-President Pia Christmas-Moeller (Denmark) today starts a pre-election visit to the United States in preparation for the Assembly's election observation mission for the November U.S. election.

The visit to Washington and several of the battleground states during the week is yet another phase of the Assembly's work to prepare the over one hundred parliamentarians participating in the observation mission.

OSCE PA President Joao Soares (Portugal) will lead the mission. Christmas-Moeller will serve as its deputy head.

The OSCE PA's preparations for its mission to the U.S. election started in August. In September, almost 50 parliamentarians from 17 countries attended a two-day elections seminar in Washington, where, among others both the Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Republican Whip Roy Blunt addressed the attendees.

The preparations also include intensive research and fact-gathering, including media monitoring.

The parliamentarians will gather in Washington at the end of October for another full day of briefings before deployment for observation of the election process and voting day in up to ten states: Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Ohio, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Missouri, Colorado and New Mexico.

The OSCE PA's post-election statement will be made public at a press conference with President Soares on 6 November.

The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly has led OSCE election observation missions since 1993. It observed the 2004 U.S. Presidential election and it will be the largest contingent of international observers at the US elections this year.