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Voters cast their votes during the U.S. presidential election in Elyria, Ohio, U.S. November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk/File Photo


BERLIN (Reuters) - International observers documented a range of concerns during November's U.S. elections, including cyber security risks, disenfranchisement of current and former prisoners, and an opaque campaign finance system, a German newspaper group reported.

"The American electoral system is very fragmented and in many places no longer meets international standards," Michael Link, chief election observer for the 57-member Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), told the Funke Mediengruppe newspaper chain.

A report prepared by a team of OSCE observers who monitored the Nov. 8 presidential and congressional elections cited the need for steps to make the U.S. campaign finance system more transparent and address moves by many U.S. states to ban former and current prisoners from voting, Link said.

He said each state had different voting laws and varying usage of new voting technologies.

There were increasing moves across the United States to return to a paper-based voting system after negative experiences with electronic voting machines in recent years, but 15 states used computers that did not allow a manual recount, he said.

Link said the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and other agencies had taken steps to ensure the security of electronic voting machines, but many machines in use across the country were old and did not meet international standards.

"This is a security risk," Link said.

Link also criticised U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, who will be sworn in on Friday, for "consciously and repeatedly overstepping the bounds of hate speech."

"That he was successful with this sets a dangerous precedent," Link said. "The international community expects the United States to provide a good example, also in this area."

No further details of the report were immediately available.

The OSCE sent its biggest team ever to the United States for the 2016 election amid charges from Trump that the poll could be "rigged" and concerns by civil rights activists that black voters could face undue obstacles.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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