Administration of elections during a pandemic in focus as Head of OSCE PA observers travels to Michigan and Colorado

Kari Henriksen USAKari Henriksen observes a voter dropping off a ballot in Ann Arbor, Michigan, 26 Oct. 2020COPENHAGEN, 27 October 2020 – In a series of meetings the past several days in Michigan and Washington, DC, Head of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s Election Observation Mission to the United States Kari Henriksen (MP, Norway) has noted that while COVID has presented a new set of challenges to holding elections, both administrators and observers are adapting to the circumstances.

With a particular focus on early and postal voting, the meetings are helping to inform preparations for the rest of the mission, including how elections can be safely and securely run during the pandemic and effectively observed. Henriksen, who serves as Vice-President of the OSCE PA, noted that the meetings are important to gain a better understanding of adaptations ahead of the arrival of the full OSCE PA delegation later this week.

“2020 has brought wholesale changes to our way of life, including the way that elections are administered,” Henriksen said. “As with any changes, there will naturally be concerns and heightened attention on implementation. This increased public interest in how elections are run is a good thing. Active engagement in elections should lead to greater public awareness and a deeper understanding of the electoral process.”

Henriksen also noted the important role of the media in providing transparency and ensuring that the public is aware of new procedures.

On Sunday Henriksen spoke with Ambassador Ursula Gacek, Head of OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights’ Limited Election Observation Mission, and with long-term observers from the mission. Henriksen travelled to southern Michigan, where she has spoken with officials at the Michigan Secretary of State’s office, several administrators of elections at county and city level, as well as representatives of civil society and the media.

She continues her programme with a series of meetings in Colorado before returning to Washington. Special Co-ordinator of the OSCE short-term observer mission Michael Georg link (MP, Germany) and the full OSCE PA observer team of some 60 European parliamentarians will arrive later this week. They will be briefed in the days prior to the election before travelling to several states to observe polling day procedures.

This is the eighth time the OSCE PA has observed an election in the United States.

For previous OSCE PA assessments of U.S. elections, please click here.

Watch a video on OSCE PA election observation here.

Photos of Kari Henriksen’s visit are available for public use on Flickr.



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