Russian delegates request to monitor U.S. polling locations
The Russian Consulate asked Texas' Secretary of State if Russian officials could monitor polling locations on November 8.
Secretary of State Carlos Cascos responded with a very definitive no.
The Russian Consulate General in Houston sent the letter to Secretary of State Carlos Cascos in late September.
“Texas has a special law, chapters 32, 33 and 34 of the Texas Election Code, that says specifically who can be in a polling place,” said Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir.
Delegates from the Russian Consulate are not on that list.
“You have to be a voter actively voting, or people working in the polling place, or a poll watcher who’s properly credentialed and following the rules,” DeBeauvoir said.
That's why when Texas Secretary of State Carlos Cascos received a letter from Russian Consulate General Alexander Zakharov asking if observers from the consulate could enter U.S. polling locations to study the elections process it was out of the ordinary.
“We'd certainly be open, and probably have been open in the past, to showing democratic countries or countries that are aiming for democracy, how we conduct elections. I think that could be a positive thing for countries turning to democracy, but that's not Russia,” said Glenn Smith, director of Progress Texas Political Action Committee.
Cascos responded four days later with a no. He pointed out that if observers with the Russian Consulate did so, it wouldn't only be a concern, it would be illegal.
“It's a criminal penalty. It is a misdemeanor, so we're very serious about it in Texas. Voting is only for voters and special circumstances that allow people inside a polling place. It's very restricted,” DeBeauvoir said.
News of the request comes after Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump stated his concern that the election could be rigged and said it would be nice if the U.S. and Russia got along.
“This election cycle we have seen Russia hack democratic headquarters, etcetera, and etcetera. So we know they're trying to mess with our election. So we know they have ill will towards us and, because of that, having them in our polling places could very well be a disaster,” said Smith.
Zakharov didn't only send his request to Texas. He also reached out the Secretary of State in Louisiana and Oklahoma. They also refused.
“I think it's a public relations stunt intended to embarrass American democracy and I think the proper authorities in each state are making the right and quick decision,” Smith said.
The U.S. has allowed other foreign lawmakers to observe elections after a formal approval process.
The United States also sends monitors to observe elections in other countries that have a history of election fraud.