The Current

U.S. voters would be 'stunned' to know midterms monitored by Russian officials: author

The presence of two Russian politicians as official monitors in the U.S. midterms, but the problems they're trying to catch start long before polling day, says author Carol Anderson.

Problems they're trying to catch start long before polling day, says Carol Anderson.

A voters fills out their ballot for the midterm election at a polling place in Madison, Wisconsin, Nov. 6, 2018. (Nick Oxford/Reuters)

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The U.S. public would be "stunned" to realize two Russian parliamentarians were official monitors of midterm elections Tuesday, according to Emory University professor and author Carol Anderson.

A key part of U.S. identity is "that the U.S. is the greatest democracy in the world, and the U.S. sends monitors to look at other people's elections to help them figure out how to do it right," she said. 

"Seeing that there were actually international monitors here, I think would be jarring," she told The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti, adding that the inclusion of Russian officials would be upsetting, given allegations about interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

The Russian politicians are members of the parliamentary assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Some 71 members were sent to observe the U.S. midterm elections. But after reports that voting Tuesday was struck by long line-ups, problems with voting machines, and confusion over voter ID, Anderson warned that "by the time that they're observing, a lot of the damage has already been done."

Professor and author Carol Anderson has written about voter suppression in the U.S. in her book One Person, No Vote. (Dave Wetty, Cloud Prime Photography/Bloomsbury)

Some states are finding ways to expand the electorate to get more people involved in voting, said Anderson, who explores voter suppression in her book One Person, No Vote

"And you've got other states that are figuring out: 'How do we stop as many American citizens from voting as we possibly can before they even get to the polls?'"

To discuss the U.S. midterms and the role international election observers played on voting day, The Current spoke to:

  • Jessica Huseman, lead reporter for Propublica's Electionland Project, which has been tracking voting problems across the U.S.
  • George Tsereteli, president of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, and a member of parliament in the country of Georgia.  
  • Carol Anderson, the Charles Howard Candler professor of African American studies at Emory University. She's also the author of One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression is Destroying Our Democracy.

Listen to the full conversation near the top of this page.

Produced by Alison Masemann and Howard Goldenthal.


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