As Joe Biden's campaign on Thursday predicted an "imminent" victory for the Democratic nominee—and President Donald Trump tweeted "STOP THE COUNT!" and "STOP THE FRAUD!"—an international election observer of the U.S. process accused the president of "gross abuse of office" over such claims and said there is no evidence so far of any electoral misconduct whatsoever.
Since Election Day, Trump has continued his monthslong attack on the security of mail-in voting, despite research showing that whether ballots are cast in person or through the Postal Service, voter fraud in the United States "is very rare." Michael Georg Link, a German lawmaker who heads an international delegation monitoring the U.S. election, reiterated that point Thursday.
Link told German public broadcaster rbb that he was "very surprised" by Trump's claims about voting by mail because the method has been used in the U.S. since the 19th century. However, the observer mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) still "looked into" the president's fraud allegations, he said. "We found no violations of the rules whatsoever."
— Randi Weingarten (@rweingarten) November 5, 2020
According to the Associated Press:
He said neither U.S. election observers nor media found any evidence of fraud either, though the OSCE team on Wednesday repeated long-standing concerns about disenfranchisement of some voters and the distorting effects of campaign finance laws.
Link said there were some instances of errors being made "but no systemic interference or even manipulation with the postal ballots whatsoever."
Link added that "on the election day itself, we couldn't see any violations" at U.S. polling places visited by members of the OSCE delegation—which on Wednesday issued a lengthy statement (pdf) detailing its preliminary conclusions on the November 3 elections to determine not only the next president but also the makeup of Congress as well as who holds various state and local offices.
Highly competitive #UnitedStates #Elections2020 tarnished by legal uncertainty and unprecedented attempts to undermine public trust, international observers say. Read our press releasehttps://t.co/uR6JxMZOOL. pic.twitter.com/mVCSrv8yUn
— OSCE/ODIHR (@osce_odihr) November 4, 2020
The U.S. elections "were competitive and well managed despite legal uncertainties and logistical challenges," the statement said. "In a highly polarized political environment, acrimonious campaign rhetoric fueled tensions. Measures intended to secure the elections during the pandemic triggered protracted litigation driven by partisan interests."
The OSCE statement continued:
Uncertainty caused by late legal challenges and evidence-deficient claims about election fraud created confusion and concern among election officials and voters. Voter registration and identification rules in some states are unduly restrictive for certain groups of citizens. The media, although sharply polarized, provided comprehensive coverage of the campaign and made efforts to provide accurate information on the organization of elections. Arrangements put in place by the election administrators, including for early and postal voting, together with committed civic engagement, allowed for high voter participation despite challenges posed by Covid-19 pandemic. Counting and tabulation is ongoing and should continue in accordance with the law and OSCE commitments. Baseless allegations of systematic deficiencies, notably by the incumbent president, including on election night, harm public trust in democratic institutions.
Before dawn on Wednesday, Trump falsely declared victory over Biden and claimed without evidence that Democrats are trying to steal the election. Since then, the president has also attempted to stop election officials from counting legally cast ballots, provoking nationwide protests.
"The most disturbing thing was that with presidential fanfare of the White House, that is, with all the insignia of power, the American commander-in-chief called for an end to the count because of his purported victory," Link told the German daily Stuttgarter Zeitung.
Trump's effort to stop the count "is something that does need to be described as breaking a taboo," the election observer told rbb. "He has neither the right nor the possibility to do this. Responsibility for the count lies exclusively with states."
The observation mission carried out by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (OSCE PA) involved 102 observers from 39 countries—50 experts and observers deployed by ODIHR and 52 parliamentarians and staff from the OSCE PA.
"The enormous effort made by election workers, supported by many engaged citizens, ensured that voters could cast their votes despite legal and technical challenges and deliberate attempts by the incumbent president to weaken confidence in the election process," Urszula Gacek of ODIHR said Wednesday. "But this election is not over, and we remain here in D.C. and in key states around the country until it is. It is vital that every properly cast ballot is properly counted."