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3 US States Deny Russian Requests to Observe Upcoming Elections

FILE - An elections clerk cuts from a strip of "I Voted" stickers at a polling place in Oklahoma City, June 28, 2016. Officials in Oklahoma, Texas and Louisiana say they've denied a request by Russian officials to be present at polling stations during next month's election.

At least three U.S. states have denied Russia's request to station monitors at polling places during the nation's presidential election on November 8.

Russia has not previously participated in programs to observe U.S. elections, and these requests to do so in the states appear to be "nothing more than a PR stunt," according to the U.S. State Department spokesman, Mark Toner.

There is a formal process that allows foreign governments to observe U.S. elections, Toner said, but individual states have the authority to approve or deny those requests.

At the White House, presidential spokesman Josh Earnest said it is uncertain what motivated Russia's request, but that a suspicious response by state officials is appropriate, since the U.S. government has determined that Russia was responsible for recent cyberattacks on American political figures' computer networks and email archives.

The secretary of state's office in Oklahoma said Friday it rejected a request it received in August from Russia's consulate in Houston, Texas, to have an officer present to study the U.S. voting process.

"While it would be our honor to offer the opportunity to observe our voting process, it is prohibited under state law to allow anyone except election officials and voters in or around the area where voting takes place," Oklahoma Secretary of State Chris Benge wrote in a response to Russia's consul general.

Officials in Louisiana and Texas said Friday they denied similar requests from Russia.