American election observers go to other countries to help ensure a free and fair vote that follows local election laws. But what happens at U.S. elections?

The United States participates in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). That means the U.S. upholds that group’s democratic standards and invites other OSCE members to observe American elections. OSCE representatives have monitored U.S. polls since 2004.

During the 2016 elections on November 8, there will be 120 parliamentarians from different countries observing U.S. polling stations in 12 states. They’ll get lots of help, says OSCE communications director Nat Parry, including:

  • Extensive briefings from experts on U.S. elections laws and procedures.
  • Meetings with international journalists.
  • Discussions with representatives of the two major U.S. political parties.
Overhead view of people at voting stations (© AP Images)
On November 8, Americans will elect 435 U.S. representatives, 34 senators, 12 state governors, and thousands of state and local officials. (© AP Images)

“As a founding member of the OSCE, the U.S. has agreed not only to principles for conducting democratic elections, but also to welcoming observers from the other 56 countries of the OSCE,” said Christine Muttonen, president of OSCE’s parliamentary assembly.

The mission will issue a report when it completes its work. You can view previous OSCE assessments of American elections.

Want to know more about U.S. elections? Here’s where you can learn about the process from start to finish, including the peaceful transition of power to the next president.

Graphic reading "Elections 2016" (State Dept./J. Maruszewski)