As the U.S. election unfolded this week, a cadre of observers sponsored by Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, the Dominican Republic and Panama fanned out to monitor the vote.
What the Organization of American States mission found was a “complex” political landscape, where unrest, intimidation and disinformation simmered in a nation that has held itself up as an exemplar.
The Washington-based group, which usually provides insight into Latin America’s often chaotic elections,issued a 20-page preliminary report about what it saw in the U.S., a nation both envied and resented.
The environment “was quite aggressive, with one campaign in particular launching repeated attacks on its major rival as well as the integrity of the country’s electoral system,” the OAS found. “These attacks served to further divide an already highly polarized electorate and electoral process.”
The observers also noted that lack of government control over social media forced the companies themselves to regulate content. “This is far from ideal and legislation based on international human rights law should be discussed and passed,” the OAS recommended.
The People, Disunited
The group said it had 28 experts from 13 countries on the ground. An observer in Detroit watched as crowds tried to interrupt the tally of ballots.
“The Mission notes that the aggressive attempts by members of the public to ‘stop the count,’ which were replicated in Pennsylvania and Arizona, were clear examples of intimidation of electoral officials,” the report found.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in 2010 to do away with many campaign spending limits also jumped out at observers. By the time a winner is declared, both camps will have spent about $14 billion, the OAS said.
“In addition to being the most expensive U.S. election, the 2020 electoral process has also been the most litigated,” the study found.
The OAS said its observers will keep observing until the count is complete and a victor announced.
“The OAS Mission urges all political parties, candidates and citizens to allow this democracy to prevail,” the group said, “and to allow the remainder of the electoral process to unfold within the framework of the law.”
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