Election observers restricted

Election officials in the D.C. area have restricted non-U.S. citizens who want to observe the election from visiting certain polling sites, according to Vassia Gueorguieva, a coordinator of an AU-based team of election observers.

"Usually election observation is done at random sites," Gueorguieva said.

While officials from Maryland and Virginia will allow the observers to visit designated sites, D.C. officials haven't responded to any requests from AU's observers as of press time, according to Gueorguieva.

The team of election observers, led by Dr. Robert Pastor, director of AU's Center for Democracy and Election Management and vice president of International Affairs, will observe five to seven sites in D.C., Maryland and Virginia, according to coordinator Amy Reid.

Pastor is currently on business in Africa and was unavailable for comment.

Virginia allows observers to visit designated sites, according to the Virginia code, Reid said.

Marjorie Roher, an administrative specialist for the Montgomery County Board of Elections, said that these restrictions were placed for safety reasons.

"Our purpose is to try to eliminate excess traffic and security risks at the majority of the polls by limiting the number at which visitors will be at," Roher said.

While the purpose of election observation differs, Gueorguieva said that this delegation's purpose was educational.

"It's a chance for observers to see how the process differs in terms of specific voting procedures, such as the use of voting machines," she said.

Observers also see how speakers of other languages are supported, what problems there may be at the polls, and how complaints or problems are handled, Reid said.

The AU team of observers includes international lawyers and judges from 10 countries, including Serbia, Pakistan, Egypt, Ecuador, Cambodia, Uruguay and Armenia.

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