Monitoring the elections

Posted: Nov 11, 2002 12:00 AM
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- It was an historic and precedent-setting election. Minnesota and New Jersey changed ballots at the last minute to accommodate one senator's death and another's ego; a record $900 million was spent on television advertising; Election Day marked the "end" of soft money in national politics; South Carolina selected its first new senator since before a man walked on the moon; Californians Loretta and Linda Sanchez became the first sisters elected to Congress; a husband and wife ran against each other for a Kansas judgeship; and thanks to a computer meltdown by the Voter News Service, network television anchors were forced to use reporting skills rather than reading computer-generated results from a Teleprompter. It was the first time this century that a Republican president helped the party pick up congressional seats in a midterm election. Floridians didn't appreciate Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe's guarantee that "Jeb is gone" and for the first time in the state's history re-elected a Republican governor to a second term. Maryland voters snubbed a Kennedy, selecting Rep. Robert Erlich as their first Republican governor since Spiro Agnew. And in Georgia, Republicans not only defeated incumbent Sen. Max Cleland but, in a stunning upset, also claimed the governor's mansion for the first time since Reconstruction. Republicans had quality candidates responsibly addressing important issues, which voters appreciated. But there was a national theme this Election Day as well, and it was a referendum on the leadership of one man -- George W. Bush. The public overwhelmingly demanded those who pledged to help President Bush advance his agenda of national defense and domestic security through the Congress. In short, it was a glorious day. I only wish that one of the networks had aired an Ozzy Osbourne-like Election Night reality television show from the home of Jumpin' Jimmy Jeffords -- the man who abandoned his party 16 months ago for some short-lived perks. But America did suffer at least one black eye this past Election Day. It came in Florida, where, for the first time in the history of the greatest democracy in the world, international observers sat in judgment of an American election. And given the support Americans gave our president and his Republican colleagues, I bet they didn't like what they witnessed. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) dispatched election monitors to oversee Florida polling stations and "assess the improvements in the electoral process after the 2000 elections in Florida," as OSCE administrator Hrair Balian announced in a letter to the Florida secretary of state's office. How did we get to the point where foreigners look over the shoulders of American citizens as they cast their ballots for governor, senator, representative or city councilman? When the Washington Times' Audrey Hudson tried to find out, she was referred from the State Department to the State of Florida to the House of Representatives and back again. Fred Gedrich, a senior policy analyst at Freedom Alliance, called the OSCE in Warsaw and was referred elsewhere. Such is how the New World Order operates: It observes and dictates to us, but we dare not ask questions about it. We do know that the OSCE sent observers from Russia, Bosnia, Albania and Switzerland to Florida. An outgrowth of the 1975 Helsinki Accords that monitored human rights abuses behind the Iron Curtain, the OSCE was "reinvented" after the Cold War and now sends election-observer missions to such far-flung places as Bosnia, Serbia, Slovakia, Skopje, Montenegro and other struggling nations. After Tajikistan held parliamentary elections in February 2000, OSCE reported that the voting had been neither free nor fair. But Tajikistan is itself one of OSCE's 55 member nations, as are such exemplars of democracy as Belarus and Uzbekistan. London Sunday Telegraph reporter Marcus Warren described Belarus, led by "its eccentric president, Alexander Lukashenka," as a place that has shown "the rest of Europe how not to manage reforms." Meanwhile, Radio Free Europe reported that OSCE didn't even bother sending election monitors to cover Uzbekistan's presidential election in January 2000 because the voting was rigged to favor President Islam Karimov. Yet these are the people who dare to pass judgment on American elections. After suffering two years of Al Gore's lawsuits, media analysis and Democrat complaints about the 2000 election, shouldn't Florida's voters have been spared the presence of election overseers from countries that spawned the likes of Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Joseph Stalin and Jacques Chirac? Florida Gov. Jeb Bush thinks so. On my radio show, he said it was an "embarrassment." What does Russia have to teach the United States about democracy? What legitimacy do foreign observers have in judging American elections? Who invited the OSCE to Florida? And, most importantly, who is going to defend American sovereignty by ending such nonsense? Newly elected Republicans should add these questions to their agenda, or the next time they face re-election, they may be scrutinized by international organizations that ignore actual menaces like Saddam Hussein in order to gang up on America and elected officials willing to defend her.