13:46 Oct. 22, 2016
‘It was appropriate for people to be suspicious of Russia's motives', White House said
At least three American states have turned down Russian requests to monitor polling locations during the election on Nov. 8, as United States officials portrayed the overture as little more than a Russian public relations stunt.
Russia's consul general in Houston, Alexander K. Zakharov, wrote letters dated in September to officials in Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma requesting that a Russian officer be present "for a short period of time, when convenient," with the "goal of studying the U.S. experience in organization of voting process."
But United States officials have been wary of Russia meddling in the election, and the American government formally accused Russia of being responsible for recent hacks surrounding American political campaigns.
Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, said that it was "appropriate" for people to be suspicious of Russia's motives in requesting a presence at American polling stations, according to The Associated Press.
States have the authority to approve or deny requests by foreign governments to observe elections, said Mark Toner, a State Department spokesman, according to The A.P. He said Russia had not participated in international efforts to observe elections, and the request to the states amounts to "nothing more than a P.R. stunt."