Following Haiti’s controversial presidential and legislative elections held on Sunday October 25th, alarm is growing about irregularities in the counting of the votes at voting centers and in the transportation of votes to the tabulation center. There is widespread mistrust of the process. Most international observers of the election and subsequent press reports have focused on the day of the election, but not on the vital final stage of the electoral process – the counting and tabulation of the votes.
Although multiple political parties are protesting the post-election counting process, Haiti’s ruling party is praising the vote and objecting to critiques of the tabulation process. CEP (Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council) has yet to make an official statement to address the growing concerns. Voters are referring to the tabulation process as an electoral coup. Eyewitnesses on the ground say that the votes for each polling center, must be matched with the names on the list for that polling center, if they do not match they must not be counted. This is a practical way of weeding out ballot stuffing.
Although Haitians turned out in large numbers to vote, reports are putting the turnout at 30%. Community leaders are challenging this figure across the country; they say the turnout was much larger. There is also a groundswell for every vote to be counted in a transparent manner.
Members of the Human Rights and Labor Fact Finding Delegation who were in Haiti in the lead up to the election and reported on their findings having met with over a dozen communities in several areas of the country (see link below), are now receiving the following reports:
- Voters were blocked from voting when their names, though on the electoral rolls outside their polling center, were missing from the list inside the center and no provisional ballots were provided;
- Irregularities in the counting of ballots at voting centers;
- Starting about 3pm on the day of the vote, ballots were brought in to replace the votes actually cast by the people;
- Ballots collected at individual polling stations are being intercepted in a number of areas when in transit to the central tabulation center;
- Some supporters of the candidate backed by the government now in power were caught ballot stuffing by MINUSTAH (UN troops);
- In Port au Prince a vehicle transporting ballots to the tabulation center got into an accident, there were two large boxes of ballots found, all were votes for the candidate supported by President Martelly. It is reported that the person driving the vehicle in question was an employee of the national palace;
- Lavalas – the party that has shown a surge of support among voters despite having being banned from the electoral process for several election cycles following the coup against the Lavalas founder and leader President Aristide, has called for the candidate supported by the ruling party to be disqualified from the election due to illegal activity to influence the outcome of the vote.
- The media is not reporting the surge in support for Lavalas despite voters testifying to the numbers.
Delegation members say that the US has a special responsibility to ensure a fair and transparent counting of the votes. The US confirmed the August 9th election although fraud was rampant and the turn out ranged from 4-18%. The US has poured millions of dollars into the election, and observers say that any vote tampering would not be without the complicity of the US government.
Calls for free and fair elections in Haiti:
Congresswoman Maxine Waters said in a recent press interview: “There is a history in Haiti of the elections being tampered with… we know that people would like to just smooth things over and say that they are hopeful that things are going to go well because they don’t want to deal with the truth of the problems of Haiti and the problems of trying to get fair elections. There are still those who remember Martelly’s [Haiti’s outgoing President], and how he got elected and became President. So I am sure that feeling does not send a lot of confidence throughout the country. And we should all be concerned, and continue to press forward as hard as we can.”
John McDonnell, the UK Shadow Chancellor, who has supported the people of Haiti in the past, expressed concern for the election: “It is critical that this election is a free and fair election, without violence or intimidation. Let democracy prevail.”
The actor Danny Glover: “There’s a great deal of money placed in this election… of which $30 million came from the US. The US has a vital interest in what happens in this election, even though they are willing to accept fraud, accept any way in which voters are dismissed or removed from the voter register, any way in which Famni Lavalas is removed. They understand this is an important election. We have to understand that too.”
Members of the fact-finding delegation as well as Haitian eyewitnesses on the ground are prepared to discuss their findings including patterns of pre-election violence and other intimidation, as well as these recent reports of fraudulent interference aimed at thwarting the will of the voters.
Delegation members include: Barbara Rhine, attorney, representing the National Lawyers Guild of San Francisco; Dave Welsh, San Francisco Labor Council; Pierre Labossiere, Haiti Action Committee; Margaret Prescod, nationally syndicated journalist on Pacifica Radio and also representing the Global Women’s Strike in the US, England, Ireland, India, Peru.
Contact: Pierre Labossiere, Haiti Action Committee; Yvon Kernizan, Haitian Human Rights Campaigner; Margaret Prescod, Journalist and Global Women’s Strike representative; Walter Riley, Civil Rights Attorney; Barbara Rhine, attorney, National Lawyers Guild/SF