Feb 14, 2006
Haiti�s elections on February 7 went well enough that the post-election vote counting should have been uncontroversial.� The turnout was huge, there was almost no violence, and the people�s choice was so clear that the second place finisher received less than 12% of the vote. But incredibly, a week later the final results have not been declared, and the Electoral Council is in disarray. The voters have taken to the streets to protect their vote, and the clear winner is alleging fraud.
Haiti�s voters have seen enough stolen elections to qualify as world-class experts in the field. They can trace a pattern of systematic suppression of their votes from the flawed voter registration campaign through a tumultuous election day to the current questionable tabulation process, and see their votes discounted at every step. They know that they did enough to win according to the rules of the game, which they believe in. But they know that voting, in Haiti, is not enough, so they are now out in the streets by the thousands, erecting barricades, protesting, even occupying the pool at the luxurious Montana Hotel, where the votes are counted. For more analysis of the elections, see IJDH�s: Counting Some of the Votes in Haiti.
Haiti�s voters need our help. Please write to Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, urging her to ensure that Haiti�s vote is respected.� A sample letter is below, feel free to modify it as you see fit. The message can be faxed, emailed to Secretary Rice via the State Department�s Form or called in to202-647-4000.
Via Facsimile No. 1-202-647-0791
Dr. Condoleeza Rice
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
Re: Respecting Haiti�s Vote
Dear Secretary Rice:
I am writing to urge you to ensure that the massive vote of Haitian citizens in favor of President Rene Preval is respected. Initial returns showed that Mr. Preval had easily passed the 50% of the vote needed to avoid a second round. Journalists and Haitian and foreign observers, including U.S. government programs, reported similar results from local tallies.
The Executive Director of the Electoral Council has declared that Mr. Preval now has slightly less 50%, and counting has apparently stopped. Electoral Council Members claim that the Executive Director- whose position is not recognized in Haitian law- has manipulated the counting and withheld information from them. The UN was even forced at one point to remove the door from the tabulation facility to promote transparency.
The credible reports of irregularities in the counting come on the heels of serious organizational flaws on election day and a poorly run voter registration campaign, both of which had a disproportionate impact on the poor voters most likely to vote for Mr. Preval. The flaws give Mr. Preval�s supporters reason to fear that his overwhelming electoral support will not be enough to win an unfair second round.
The State Department has previously supported people who took to the streets in Ukraine and elsewhere to demand a fair count of the vote. Last week you reiterated that the United States would �support the people of Haiti as they progress toward a transparent and stable democracy.� Please support the people of Haiti by ensuring that the Interim Haitian Government correctly counts the votes for all candidates, especially Mr. Preval.
For more information about the Half-Hour for Haiti Program, the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, or human rights in Haiti, see www.ijdh.org.