Russia’s request to monitor polling stations in three states has been denied, and Russian officials are upset by the move. For the past weeks, Russian media has been angrily talking about the fact that the Obama administration has turned down requests made by many ambassadors to be “observers” in polling places to get “acquainted” with the voting process on November 8.
While this might appear very unusual to have foreign officials be present as millions of Americans cast their votes for president, it is very common. Under the Vienna Convention, a country can send their officials “to observe” the election of another country.
For many years, American ambassadors and their staff members have done the same in Russia and other nations. However, this presidential election is different from others because many American and world intelligence officials have come out and said that Russia is behind the hacking of the DNC and other US political figures.
Donald Trump, who has praised President Vladimir Putin on several occasions, seems to be backing the theory that China is behind the hacking. Another reason for the strained relationship between the two countries is the war in Syria.
For all the reasons mentioned above when officials in Oklahoma secretary of state’s office were contacted in August by Russia’s consulate general in Houston asking them the authorization to be present at a voting precinct to study the “US experience in the organization of voting process,” they said no.
Along with Oklahoma, officials in Texas and Louisiana have also declined to have Russian officers at their polling stations. American officials are pointing fingers at each other for denying the request. Oklahoma lawmakers said that it is illegal in the state to have anyone other than election officials and voters present on Election Day.
Louisiana indicated that they rejected the request because they have been too busy handling the flooding in the state. Louisiana’s Secretary of State’s office spokeswoman Meg Casper said:
“We had allowed observers from overseas in the past from other countries, never from Russia and that the FBI and Department of Homeland Security had, told us not to do this.”
The State Department issued a brief statement saying it did no such thing. It also claimed that it is up to states to decide whether or not they want foreign election observers on Election Day. The Russian government said in a statement:
“Overall, we are disappointed with the reaction of the U.S. administration, and, on top of that, with the unfriendly way it is currently portraying our desire to pursue normal diplomatic work in respectful contact with the authorities of the host country, which we hoped for. It is obvious that in this case our American colleagues are lacking transparency for”
According to experts, a Hillary Clinton win could create more tensions with Russia.