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August 10 2004 | 5:00 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Bernard from Syosset, N.Y.:
Has this administration actually invited international oversite of our national elections? If so, under what authority or mandate?

Respectfully submitted by this Korean War veteran recipient of only one Purple Heart decoration.

Jim Wilkinson A: Jim Wilkinson, Deputy National Security Advisor for Communications:

Let me first begin by thanking you for your service in the Korean War -- which as you know is the "forgotten war" to many. Because people like you made sacrifices, people like me have a great nation to live in. Thanks.

As to your question, here are some facts that I think will help.

In Copenhagen in 1990 the Organization for Security and Cooperation (OSCE), agreed to allow fellow OSCE members to observe elections in one another’s countries.

The U.S. is a member of OSCE. And just as it did for the Presidential elections in 1996 and 2000 – and the mid-term elections in 1998 and the 2002 elections -- the U.S. has invited an OSCE election observer team to observe this fall’s Presidential elections. The OSCE did not send observers in 1996, 1998 and 2000 although they were invited.

The OSCE's Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) did send election observers to Florida for the 2002 midterm elections, and to California for the 2003 gubernatorial elections. The 2002 election observation mission consisted of 11 international observers (and included one U.S. citizen) and met with the Federal Election Commission, staff of the Senate Rules Committee, the Helsinki Commission, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and representatives of civil society in Washington, D.C.

In Florida, the mission met with the Assistant Secretary of State and the director and staff of the Division on Elections, county executives and Supervisors of Elections, representatives of the Republican and Democratic parties, and representatives of civic organizations with special interests in the election process.

On Election Day, the Mission deployed teams in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Hillsborough and Duval counties.

In the past, the OSCE has observed French presidential elections (April-May 2002), Spanish parliamentary elections (March 2004), and U.K. elections for the Devolved Administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (May and November 2003).

The U.S. serves as a model for democratic systems and, as it has in the last two Presidential elections, wants to invite OSCE observers to view our free and fair elections. We are delighted to have our partners in the OSCE view our election process which serves as a model for other nations who seek to reform their systems to include free and fair elections.