Monday, April 5, 2021

European Security Organization Urges Reforms for U.S. Elections | Best Countries

European Security Organization Urges Reforms for U.S. Elections | Best Countries

Improving voter rights and reviewing the use of the Electoral College are two of the most important reforms U.S. lawmakers should consider to improve America’s elections, a European security-oriented organization said in a newly released report.

The report, issued by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, also said last November’s general elections carried no significant fraud, adding the former President Donald Trump, who lost the election, undermined public faith in democratic institutions.

The OSCE report carried several recommendations to improve the American federal electoral process, with its highest priority calling for significant reform to the Electoral College for presidential and vice presidential elections. In 2016, Trump managed to secure a victory in the Electoral College despite losing the popular vote by almost 3 million votes. In 2020, Trump suffered decisive losses in both the popular vote and Electoral College, but still pressured then-Vice President Mike Pence to interfere with Congress’ session to certify the Electoral College results.

“The Electoral College system is not in accordance with international good practice as it does not fulfil the principle of equality of the vote, in that electoral college votes do not correspond equitably to the population size of some states and so have a disproportionate impact on the outcome of the presidential election,” the report’s authors wrote.

Trump’s campaign to interfere with a transfer of power to current President Joe Biden culminated in the storming of the U.S. Capitol by the former president’s supporters on Jan. 6. Trump is currently facing a second impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate for his actions leading up to the attack, which claimed the lives of five people.

The Organization’s report also recommends independent redistricting commissions among states; codifying of standardized federal electoral procedures into law; protections against discriminatory voting practices; and that citizens of the District of Columbia and overseas territories be given full representation in Congress as well as suffrage in presidential elections, among several others.

The report follows comments from OSCE observers in November – who had been participating in an invited observation mission – issuing a strong critique of Trump, saying his attempts to cast doubt on the official election results “harm public trust in Democratic institutions.”

OSCE officials at the time said that Trump’s lawsuits contesting absentee ballots in several states aimed to “change the rules of the game,” and criticized the U.S.’ disenfranchisement of roughly 5.2 million citizens with criminal convictions, even when many had already completed their jail sentences. The OSCE’s new report also calls for convicted criminals to have their voting rights restored upon completion of their prison terms.

Born from a 1975 security conference in Finland as a Cold War-era forum to discuss issues between the East and West, the OSCE examines issues such as fair elections, freedom of the press, arms control and human rights. The organization’s 57 country members include the U.S. and countries in North America, Asia and Europe.

OSCE election monitors travel to countries to determine the extent that elections honor issues such as transparency, accountability, equality and political pluralism.

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