By. Dan Beeton, The Center for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)
For Immediate Release: January 17, 2011
Contact: Dan Beeton, 202-239-1460
Washington, D.C.– An analysis from the Center for Economic and Policy Research finds that the conclusions of a high-profile report [PDF] on Haiti’s presidential elections from the Organization of American States’ (OAS) “Expert” Mission – which recommends changing the result of the first round of the election — are methodologically and statistically flawed, and arbitrary.
“It is highly unusual and perhaps unprecedented for any electoral authority to change the results of an election without a full recount,” said Mark Weisbrot, CEPR Co-Director of and co-author of the analysis. “I can’t recall ever seeing something like this.
“But for a foreign mission to do so with such flawed methodology, and for foreign governments to then bring pressure on Haiti to accept the changed result – that really makes a complete travesty of the democratic process,” Weisbrot added.
The OAS Mission report threw out 234 tally sheets, thus putting Jude Celestin, the government’s candidate, in third place behind Michel Martelly, a popular singer, who would then finish second by a small margin of 0.3 percent of the vote (3,200 votes). However, there were about six times as many tally sheets that were missing or quarantined. The missing/quarantined tally sheets were from areas with a much higher average vote for Celestin; CEPR’s prior report estimated that if these ballot sheets had been included, Celestin would have finished second, as the original vote count showed. Only the first and second place finishers proceed to the runoff election.
Unlike the CEPR report, which looked at all 11,181 tally sheets and subjected each of the top three candidates’ vote totals, for each voting booth, to a statistical test for irregularities, the OAS Mission report examined only a sample of 919 of the 11,181 tally sheets. The OAS Mission – a team of which six out of seven members were from the US, Canada and France (which is not an OAS member) – then applied legal criteria, such as whether the tally sheets were properly signed, to exclude 234 tally sheets. The OAS Mission report does not contain any statistical inference from its sample to estimate the impact of irregularities in the remaining 92 percent of tally sheets that it did not examine.
The election turnout was also amazingly small, with only about 27 percent of registered voters going to the polls – a record low for a presidential election in the Western Hemisphere, including Haiti, for more than 60 years. An even smaller percentage, 22.9 percent, had their votes counted, and disenfranchisement was even higher in those areas most affected by the earthquake — about half of the overall average.
“This is another obvious reason why the election needs to be re-done,” said Weisbrot.
The majority of Haitians who voted in the last presidential election, in 2006 – which had a turnout of 59.3 percent – did not vote in this election.
Haitian President Rene Preval and Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council are under strong political pressure from the United States, France, and other foreign governments to accept the OAS “Expert” Mission’s recommendation to change the election results. Observers fear more unrest should the Haitian authorities accept the report’s conclusions.
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