On August 9th, Haiti held its first round of legislative elections after more than three years of delays and political squabbles. Election Day was marred by violence, fraud, and other irregularities all over the country but initial accounts from the Electoral Council (CEP) and major international observers ignored those issues. The article below examines the problems with these elections in the context of dangerous precedents set by Haiti’s past elections ever since the country’s very first democratic election in 1990.
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Electoral Carnival in Haiti
Etant Dupain, Woy Magazine
August 25, 2015
The elections of August 9th, 2015 are clear proof that Haiti has a serious disease. We waited 4 years for these long overdue elections, only to end up with a demagogic mess. These words are not simply my opinion, but also the remarks of RNDDH one of the largest human rights organizations in the country. RNDDH had more than 1500 observers throughout the country on Election Day.
Starting at 6 am, voters took to the streets in search of their local stations. The first place I visited on August 9th was the polling station in Bel Air at Ecole National Dumarsais Estimé. Workers were counting ballots by candlelight in a small dark room, while security fought with proxies sent by political parties trying to enter the office but could not. After Bel Air, I went down to the Silvio Cator stadium one of the biggest polling places in Port-au-Prince. There, I found the same problems, political party’s proxies unable to enter the office. Only political parties like Verite, PHTK and Bouclier were given access to the center. This was also the case in Bel Air.
A proxy (mandatè in Kreyòl) is a representative that every political party or candidate sends to observe at polling centers. The electoral law grants every party and candidate (even independent ones) access to all polling centers through proxies to observe the process on election day. This practice comes from the lack of trust that exists in the Haitian electoral system, the proxy is tasked with observing the process on behalf of their party to ensure nothing fraudulent is happening. However, a lot of times, it is these very representatives that cause problems on election day in Haiti; proxies tend to stuff ballots and commit fraud for their candidate.
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