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Texas shoots down Russian Consulate's request to monitor voting precinct
A bilingual sign stands outside a polling center at public library ahead of local elections on April 28, 2013 in Austin, Texas. Early voting was due to begin Monday ahead of May 11 statewide county elections. The Democratic and Republican parties are vying for the Latino vote nationwide following President Obama's landslide victory among Hispanic voters in the 2012 election. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Texas shoots down Russian Consulate's request to monitor voting precinct


This presidential election might be in the final stretch, but there's still no shortage of weirdness.

The state of Texas denied on Friday a request to have Russian officials monitor polling stations on Election Day, according to a letter first obtained by NBC News.

MANCHESTER, NH - NOVEMBER 6:  A young girl looks out from a voting booth as her mother casts her ballot at the Bishop Leo O'Neil Youth Center on November 6, 2012 in Manchester, New Hampshire. The swing state of New Hampshire is recognised to be a hotly contested battleground that offers 4 electoral votes, as recent polls predict that the race between U.S. President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney remains tight. Credit: Getty Images Credit: Getty Images

The Texas secretary of state's office reported receiving a letter from Russia's consulate general in Houston asking if it could send a representative to one of the voting precincts in order to learn about the "US experience in organization of voting process."

Naturally, Carlos Cascos, Texas secretary of state, shot down the request.

"Only persons authorized by law may be inside of a polling location during voting," he said. "All other persons are not authorized and would be committing a class C Misdemeanor crime by entering."

Alexander Zakharov, Russia's consul general in Houston, send similar requests to Oklahoma and Louisiana, according to NBC.

Over the course of this campaign season, Russia has played a major role in the discussion. While Republican presidential nominee claims the election system is "rigged" against him, the U.S. government has indicated Russia might be behind cyberattacks which have led to the publication of thousands of internal emails from the Democratic National Committee — a move many experts believe is intended to influence the outcome of the election.

Russia, for its part, has denied being involved in the hacks.

There is a formal process in place, should a foreign government be interested in observing the U.S. election. However, according to State Department spokesman Mark Toner, states have the right to approve or deny requests to do so.

"Any suggestion that we rejected Russia's proposal to observe our elections is false. Individual parties — foreign governments, NGOs, etc. — are welcome to apply to state governments to observe our elections," he told NBC.

Given Russia has not engaged in any effort to observe elections internationally, the country's request to do so at the state level is "nothing more than a PR stunt," Toner said.

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