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Texas Secretary of State Addresses Election Observer Concerns

Joey Palacios
Texas Public Radio

As the first five days of early voting came to a close, Texas Secretary of State Hope Andrade visited election sites across the state to praise the high turnout during early voting.  Andrade stopped in Bexar County on Friday as election monitors from Europe are being threatened by the state's attorney general.

The two election observers visiting the state are from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

Attorney General Greg Abbott is threatening legal action if they interfere with the voting process and violate state election laws like the 100 ft. Polling Place rule.  

Since 2002, the organization has monitored U.S. elections. Texas Secretary of state Hope Andrade - the states highest Elections official - said the concerns are being addressed.

"We appreciate our attorney general protecting our process very much, but once again, the observers - in fact [Bexar County Elections Administrator] Jacque [Callanen] meet with them last week, she had a good meeting with them - but their role is strictly as an observer and strictly to just share information," Andrade said.

The AG's concern is shown in a letter that states the Organization has met with groups that may oppose Voter ID Laws which are not being enforced for the election. He said that the observers are not allowed to influence voters. 

During her San Antonio visit, Andrade praised voting turn out which in the first week of early voting is 125,000 for Bexar County. Bexar County Elections Administrator Jacque Callanen said the strong turnout is likely to pass the 2008 early voting total of 350,000. Early voting will run until next Friday, Nov. 2.