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THE RACE TO THE WHITE HOUSE

International Team May Monitor Presidential Vote

August 11, 2004|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The United States has invited international observers to monitor November's presidential election, U.S. and European officials said Tuesday.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said it received the request from the State Department and would send a team to the United States next month to determine whether to accept the task.

The United States is a member of the 55-nation group, which has traditionally focused on monitoring elections in emerging democracies.

Adam Ereli, a State Department spokesman, said the OSCE sent 10 observers to the 2002 elections in Florida and two to California during the gubernatorial recall election last year.

He said OSCE observers had also been invited to elections in 1998 and 2000 but that the State Department believes the 2002 elections were the first they observed.

Ereli said having observers was part of a principle of "equity and full transparency."

"My understanding is that it was an outgrowth of, if we are going to do it for emerging democracies, we also need to do it for ourselves," he said.

The organization has never monitored a U.S. presidential election, said Curtis Budden, a spokesman for the group's human rights office, which is based in Warsaw.

The assessment team will travel to the United States in September, he said.

Such teams usually meet with members of electoral commissions, political parties and nongovernmental organizations. Budden said he did not yet know where the mission to the U.S. would go.

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