U.S. elections get international monitors too

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 were 120 parliamentarians from different countries observing U.S. polling stations in 12 states. They received lots of help, according to 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, 2016, Americans elected 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, former president of OSCE’s parliamentary assembly.

The mission issued a final report after completing its work. You can also view previous OSCE assessments of American elections.

A version of this story was previously published on October 27, 2016.