Iowa Sec. of State Threatens Foreign Election Monitors with Arrest

On Tuesday, Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz warned international voting monitors they would be arrested if they showed up to monitor polling locations in Iowa on Election Day.

“My office met with two delegation representatives last week to discuss Iowa’s election process, and it was explained to them that they are not permitted at the polls,” Schultz said in a statement released Tuesday. “Iowa law is very specific about who is permitted at polling places, and there is no exception for members of this group.”

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad agreed with Schultz as well. 

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe said it planned to "send observers from its Office for Democratic Institutions to Iowa and other states" and its members have been "meeting with election officials and political party workers since last month to discuss their observation plans in the United States."

Schultz spokesman Chad Olsen said Iowa state law makes it illegal for international poll monitors to show up and maintain a "a presence within 300 feet of a polling location" and "local elections officials can request that they be removed if they refuse to do so. That could be the poll workers at the site, or the county auditor or county attorney.” 

“They violate the statute just by showing up and maintaining," Olson told the Gazette. "They are aware of the statute, and did indicate at the meeting last week that they had no intention of violating Iowa law, but then apparently were seeking permission from county auditors to do so anyway.” 


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