Russia has offered to monitor the Election Day in at least three states, saying that it would be willing to send someone “for a short period of time, when convenient” to observe the voting process.
Texas and Oklahoma predictably turned Russia down. Louisiana’s Secretary of State ran the suggestion by Homeland Security and the FBI, ultimately telling the Russians that flooding from Hurricane Matthew had prevented him from accepting the offer.
“Had this flood event not occurred, we would certainly have been open to such a visit, but I cannot meet such a request with the situation I currently have in front of me,” the Louisiana official wrote, inviting the Russians to get back in touch in 2020 “if you are still desirous to visit a precinct in a presidential election.” But a rep for the Louisiana Secretary of State later called Russia’s request a “propaganda ploy.”
The U.S. Department of State called the offer “nothing more than a PR stunt,” while White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said it was “appropriate” to question Russia’s motives.
The Russian state-controlled publication Izvestia reported that its suggestion was “categorically rejected,” calling the U.S. response “harsh.”
Russia’s offer to send election monitors has come public amid Donald Trump’s suggestions that the election may be “rigged” and that the voting process may be plagued by fraud. Trump said Thursday that he would “totally accept the results—if I win.”
Russia’s offer comes amid growing concern in the U.S. intelligence community that Moscow was involved in the hacking of Democrats’ correspondence — U.S. officials have accused Russia of engaging in the hacking to meddle with the U.S. presidential campaign.
Trump has repeatedly called for closer relations with Russia, and he said earlier this week that if he is elected, he would consider meeting with Vladmir Putin even before his inauguration.