Election Day in Haiti - Live Updates
|Sunday, 20 March 2011 08:40|
The elections have now passed, in what has generally been described as a more peaceful election day than the first round. There were still many problems however, and most reports from on the ground indicate that turnout was very low. It is important to keep in mind that the first round saw just a 23 percent turnout, with the two right-wing run-off candidates receiving a combined 11 percent of support from all registered voters. The exclusion of the largest party, Fanmi Lavalas, the inadequate efforts to allow those living in IDP camps to vote and massive irregularities contributed not only to the low turnout, but to 12 percent of tally sheets never even being counted. The preliminary results were then arbitrarily overturned due to pressure from the international community, especially the US. The second round then is based on an illegitimate electoral process and a deeply flawed first round. New, inclusive elections remain the only way to ascertain the true will of the Haitian people. Although the elections have passed, we will continue to update this space with the latest election related news and analysis.
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One area that remained a debate was turnout. Both the heads of the Provisional Electoral Council and the U.N. Peacekeeping Mission told journalists Sunday that participation was high. But Granderson said while the participation appears to be slightly higher than for the first round — 22 percent nationwide — it doesn’t appear to coincide with the more than 1 million inquiries via telephone calls and text messages election officials received from voters wanting to locate their polling stations.
It is important to point out though that assuming there actually was a lower number of polling stations that were destroyed or closed on election day, the registered turnout would be higher even if the same number of people came out to vote. In the first round nearly 12 percent of the tally sheets where either never counted or thrown out due to fraud; since these votes were not counted they did not go into the participation rate of 22.8 percent. In a report released after the first round, we estimated that this corresponds to about 160,000 voters. If the same number of people tried to vote as in the first round, and assuming the OAS is correct in saying that overall the election was improved, we would expect turnout to be roughly 26 percent. This would not, however, mean that more people tried to vote, only that a higher percent of the actual vote was counted. If the participation rate is at or below the first round, it is an indication that far fewer people actually took part in the election.
The Martelly campaign has benefitted greatly from the services of Ostos and Sola. Sola, who also worked on the campaign of Felipe Calderon in Mexico and has worked extensively with the Popular Party and former right-wing president Aznar in Spain. The executive director of Ostos & Sola and Martelly's campaign manager is Damien Merlo. Merlo worked on the McCain campaign in 2008 and previously worked for the International Republican Institute. Merlo was also the Vice President of Otto Reich Associates, the company of the former Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere under George Bush, Otto Reich. Ostos & Sola, together with Otto Reich Associates is actually lobbying for Raytheon in Chile. Raytheon is working with the National Emergency Office, which Chile wants strengthened after the
It remains unclear who is paying for the high profile campaign team. In an interview with the Toronto Star, Sola said, "A friend, a businessman, presented Michel to us in the U.S..”. Martelly has been asked multiple times by reporters, responding to the Miami Herald, "They are here. They are paid by people who believe in us. But who do not want to give us the money. Friends from out of Haiti, the States who decided to give us support." When asked directly who was funding him, Martelly responded, "You talk to them." A New York Times report after that interview reported that, "the first round ultimately cost him and his supporters $1 million and the second, backed by donors he refused to name, around $6 million." That is about .1 percent of Haiti's GDP.
Monday - Update 1:41 PM: AFP reports today that, "Michel Martelly, a singer and carnival entertainer with a colorful past, may have triumphed in quake-hit Haiti's presidential elections, partial results indicated Monday." Nevermind that the CEP had called on media not to publish partial results, something AFP noted in their French language article on the same topic. Unfortunately, it looks like AFP is engaging in exactly the sort of reporting that the CEP about. AFP reports:
Tally sheets read out on television and radio indicated Martelly was well ahead of his rival, former first lady Mirlande Manigat, in key urban areas including Petionville and the Cite Soleil slum in the capital.
Although Fatton then says it is "not fully representative but it indicates a trend", AFP uses some seriously flawed polling to report:
Out of 50 people questioned by AFP in Port-au-Prince after polls closed on Sunday at 5:00 pm local time (2200 GMT), not a single one said they had voted for Manigat, a soft-spoken 70-year-old and long-time opposition figure.It may have been worth pointing out that although Martelly looked particularly popular in Petionville and Cite Soleil, he also was particularly popular in those areas in the first round. Martelly received nearly 50 percent of the votes in those areas, despite winning just over 20 percent nationwide (you can download the first round database, here). Furthermore, the total votes counted in Petionville and Cite Soleil accounted for roughly 5 percent of the total votes counted nationwide, a significant portion but certainly not representative of the total. If the AFP does decide to defy the CEP and report on partial results, it should at least provide the context necessary to interpret those results.
Publishing articles that try to definitevely declare a winner before official results are announced could lead to the sort of street protests that occurred after the first round. As the same AFP article notes, "Even before voting stations closed on Sunday, Martelly supporters were triumphantly taking to the streets".
Monday - Update 11:31 AM: Also from Nick Miroff's article in the Washington Post, reports that Martelly supporters are already "sure that Preval...was scheming to cheat them," something we covered here. Miroff writes:
It was unclear whether the problems Sunday were caused by dirty tricks, Haiti's general disorganization, or a bit of both. Voters, particularly Martelly supporters, said they were sure that Preval - who called Sunday for "cool heads" to prevail - was scheming to cheat them.Also worth mentioning the fact that there were reports of campaining on election day, something expressly warned about the day before the election by the OAS mission. The OAS warned that:
article 122.2 of the Electoral Law states that “all public manifestations in favor of one or several candidates, one or several political parties, grouping or regroupings are formally banned on Election Day and until the proclamation of the results”. The candidates have the responsibility to inform their supporters about this stipulation and warn them not to wear any clothes or carry any visible signs that indicate their political preferences on Election Day.
Monday - Update 10:57 AM: Although announcements from the CEP, OAS, France, and MINUSTAH, all noted higher turnout in yesterday's election this contradicts most reports from the ground. The Washington Post's Nick Miroff provides a more nuanced view:
Haiti struggled once more to pull off an orderly election Sunday, as confusion broke out at polls and turnout appeared low, but when the day ended quietly without major violence, election officials and foreign observers called it a success.Although noting that at "many voting stations, the process seemed to unfold relatively smoothly", Miroff adds that, "it was not difficult to find voters in the capital who had been turned away." The low turnout was noted in othe reports as well. Jacqueline Charles and Frances Robles write in the Miami Herald that in most voting stations there were "more political observers and roving operatives present than voters". A midday report from observers from Let Haiti Live, Bri Kouri Nouvèl Gaye, Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti and International Action Ties also reported "Participation is very low in most locations, lower than it was during to first round on November 28th. In some locations there were more workers and/or security than voters."
On the other hand, here are some comments from the CEP, MINUSTAH, and France:
CEP: "Haiti's top electoral officer, Gaillot Dorsinvil, hailed what he called the large turnout of voters in the first presidential run-off vote in the Caribbean nation"
MINUSTAH:AFP quotes Edmond Mulet, head of MINUSTAH, as saying, "I've seen a lot of differences compared to November 28. Participation is greater."
France: "The second round of elections in Haiti took place in a satisfactory manner” and “the mobilisation of a large number of voters, which resulted in an increase in participation is a success” said foreign affairs ministry spokesperson Bernard Valero.
Update 11:38 PM:Ansel Herz posts a MINUSTAH document listing security incidents and irregularities as of 1 PM today. The document shows MINUSTAH to have responded in at least five of ten departments by midday. The most serious situation described in the document occurred in the Artibonite department, and resulted in one death:
On 20 March in École Nationale Poste Pierrot voting centre (VC Code / 05-21-55-10-04-9) in Dessalines (Artibonite Department) According to information received, ARGBAT troops went to the site to monitor and respond and were confronted with shots from the fighting group. Preliminary information received indicates that MINUSTAH military defended themselves, firing an unknown number of live shots at the group, injuring one person, upon evacuation by MINUSTAH to the Saint March hospital; the individual succumbed to his injuries. There is also incoming information that a local voting centre in Dessalines (Ecole Nationale Ogé-05-21-55-10-03-16) was invaded this morning, and elections materials were destroyed. Three armed individuals were reported to have been arrested in connection.
Four voting centers were also closed, at least temporarily in Grand Anse:
On 20 March, at École Nationale Anse -à-Mason Voting Centre (08-02-05-12-06-11) in Pestel (Grande Anse Department) armed suspects fired gunshots. MINUSTH Military responded on the scene by firing in the air. The four voting centres are currently closed.Most news reports have indicated that overall voting was smoother than the first round, however there were still reports of delays, voters being turned away, voter intimidation and other irregularities throughout the day.
Update 9:05 PM: Although commentators may point to the CEP when assigning blame for the disorganization seen today (not without reason as the CEP has been discredited for some time), it is worth pointing out, as some already have, that MINUSTAH is responsible for the delivery of election materials. Many polling stations throughout the west department, as well as the south and southwest departments, had to delay opening because of missing voting materials or the delivery of the wrong voting materials. The four largest voting stations in Port-au-Prince were also affected, according to the OAS chief Colin Granderson. Alterpresse spoke with the MINUSTAH spokeperson, Sylvie Van Wildenberg:
In an interview with AlterPresse, the spokesman of MINUSTAH, Sylvie Van Wildenberg, admits that the UN mission, responsible for transporting sensitive equipment and non-sensitive in polling centers, has experienced some difficulties.
Update 8:46 PM: Jacqueline Charles and Frances Robles report in The Miami Herald on today's second round, contrasting the authorities statements with reports on the ground:
In some places, there were no ballots. In others, only dry ink to mark a voter’s finger. In many more, disenfranchised voters were turned away from polls and boisterous political party operatives got in the way.After quoting CEP president Dorsinvil and the chead of the OAS observation mission Colin Granderson saying that things went well, Charles and Robles then report on some of the irregularities seen on the ground: missing ink and ballots, which causing delays up to 6 hours; stations being sent the wrong ballots; voters being turned away for not being on the electoral lists; low turnout, resulting in "more political observers and roving operatives present than voters"; and intimidation and repeat voting from partisans.
Although announcements from the CEP, OAS and MINUSTAH may be overly optimistic regarding participation, which was generally reported to be lower than the first round, there were no large scale protests or destruction of polling stations as there were in the first round. There were not as many reports of widespread ballot stuffing either. But although overall levels of fraud may have been lower than in the first round, much of the disorganization that disenfranchised many in November was reportedly seen today as well.
Update 5:47 PM: Polls were kept open until 5:00 PM, an extra hour, around Port-au-Prince due to delays in delivering voting materials and general disorganization this morning, but some on twitter are saying the streets are already rather empty. Democracy NOW!'s Sharif Kouddous tweets, "Half an hour to go before polls close in Haiti election. Normally busy streets are empty," and shares this picture. The Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti tweets, "extending polling hours 1 hour has not increased turnout. Many polling stations empty already."
Update 5:25 PM: Edmond Mulet continues to be cited in the press giving optimistic assesments of the situation, despite observer and media reports telling of extremely low turnout. After telling AFP earlier that participation was greater than in the first round, he now tells AP that, "Everything is peaceful, is more or less OK, much better than Nov. 28." As was pointed out earlier, Mulet gave an overly optimistic assesment of the situation during the first round. It would seem appropriate to mention this when citing his assesment of the second round. Although there have not been reports of wide-spread violence, there have been some isolated cases. Journalist Allyn Gaestel recently tweeted: "Mario andresol [chief of police] said were two "elections related deaths" today in Desdunes and Marchand-Dessalines."
Update 5:05 PM: The latest AP report indicates that the lack of voting supplies delayed voting through multiple departments, and not just in and around Port-au-Prince. Trenton Daniel and Ben Fox report, "A spokesman for the electoral council told The Associated Press that poll supplies such as ballots and ink were delayed in reaching voting centers in the southern, southwestern, and western regions of Haiti."
Confusingly, the presidential ballots were dated 2011 while those for picking a local deputy to the national assembly were dated 2010.
Kidd also points out that although some voting centers seemed to be operating well, it was not necessarily because of the increased efforts of the international community and the CEP:
Just 30 metres away, in the outdoor garden of another school, the Frères de l’instruction Chretienne, perfect order reigned — voters’ lists posted where they should be, voters queuing calmly and voices all but hushed.
Update 3:34 PM: Polls are staying open one hour later, at least in the areas in and around Port-au-Prince. Polls had been set to close at 4 PM (5 PM EST).
Update 3:20 PM: As we noted below, Edmond Mulet told AFP that participation looked greater than in the first round, well, as a reminder, here was Mulet's rosy assessment from election day in November:
"In general everything is going well, everything is peaceful," Mulet, the head of the UN peacekeeping mission MINUSTAH which is helping to police the elections, told AFP.And we all know how the first round turned out.
Update 3:07 PM: It is perhaps not surprising that Al Jazeera's Sebastian Walker recently tweeted, "Lines dwindling to zero at largest voting centre in Petionville. Little interest with 2.5 hours still to go...and it opened 2 hours late." Although Martelly received about 60 percent of the votes counted in Petionville in the first round, the participation rate was just 14 percent. Martelly received 8 percent of his countrywide vote total from Petionville. You can download the first round database here.
Update 2:37 PM: The Miami Herald's Jacqueline Charles tweets, "All voting centers that had a late start will remain open til 6 pm today, #haiti #elections spokesman just told me."
Update 2:19 PM: AFP quotes Edmond Mulet, head of MINUSTAH, as saying, "I've seen a lot of differences compared to November 28. Participation is greater." The statement from Mulet would seem to contradict what observers had earlier reported:
Participation is very low in most locations, lower than it was during to [sic] first round on November 28th. In some locations there were more workers and/or security than voters.
Many of the problems of the first round were reportedly repeated; polling stations opening late, missing materials, voters having a hard time finding the correct voting location, and voters not finding their names on the electoral lists. The chaos of the first round, where 12 of 19 presidential candidates called for the elections annullment in the early afternoon and dozens of polling stations were destroyed or closed down would be hard to replicate, however the efforts to remedy the general disorganization and low turnout of the first round may have fallen short.
Update 1:20 PM: Worth noting is that the failure to issue new identification cards before the first round was not remedied for the second round. The day before the November 28 first round, the New York Times reported, "Less than half of the more than 400,000 new and replacement national identification cards necessary for voting are thought to have been distributed, leading to intense frustration." After the first round, the CEP said in a press release, citing article 32 of the electoral law, that:
Accordingly, citizens holding a national identification card issued after September 28, 2010 are not eligible to vote in the second round of Presidential and Legislative Elections of 20 March. (google translation)
Update 12:58 PM: Just received this mid-day report from Melinda Miles of Let Haiti Live who is monitoring the election today together with Bri Kouri Nouvèl Gaye, Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti and International Action Ties. The full report follows:
Compiled by Let Haiti Live, a project of TransAfrica Forum. Observer teams include representatives from: Let Haiti Live, Bri Kouri Nouvèl Gaye, Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti and International Action Ties
The morning started off quietly and was marked by low voter turn out in Port-au-Prince, Haiti on this second round election day. Teams visited polling places throughout downtown Port-au-Prince, Cite Soleil, Petionville, Delmas, Carrefour, and the camps for internally displaced people (homeless earthquake survivors) at Corail and Kanaran.
As the polls were supposed to open at 6am, a small group gathered outside the Lycee Cite Soleil. Inside the polling station was not yet ready to receive voters. The majority of people in the street seemed uninterested in elections, just passed by on their way to other things. Security was lighter than in November, but still a significant MINUSTAH presence in the street. Later at 7:45am the voting bureaus opened and there were no lines. Several would-be voters could not find their names on the electoral lists and were noisily complaining. In the street some partisans for Michel Martelly were telling people to vote for him. Cite Soleil has approximately 150,000 eligible voters but it appeared as though not more than 200 were participating during the first few hours of voting.
At the IDP Camp Kanaran (also know as Canaan) there was no voting bureau set up, the same situation as in November. Not far away at the Corail Camp, the only voting bureau for the camp of more than ten thousand had 40 registered voters, many of whom were poll workers/observers. At the time of our visit around 7am there was more security and foreign observers than voters. There were four UN vehicles and one armored personnel carrier as well as more than a dozen soldiers and police in bullet proof vests. A Canadian police officer noted rumors that voters from Kanaran were expected to come to the Corail voting bureau to attempt to vote.
In some voting stations in Port-au-Prince, poll workers had ballot boxes marked for senator even though there is no second round for senator in the west department. In some polling stations, such as the Lecole Municipale Dumarsais Estime, there were ballots for deputy but not for president. In other places the ballot boxes did not arrive labeled, leading to confusion. At the ONA at the Champ de Mars there were no materials to vote at 8am, and at the Lecole Fleurant in Christ Roi they lacked ballots and ink. At the Lycee Toussaint many people could not find their names on the voter lists.
At the Lycee Petionville many people attempted to vote and a long line led around the corner. The bureaus opened late and some materials were missing. Outside the bureau at about 9:30am MINUSTAH Mission Head Edmond Mulet spoke to the press while only a few steps away partisans of Michel Martelly campaigned for him, encouraging voters to cast their ballots for Tet Kale. The police did not intervene. At 11:25am there was still a large number of people attempting to vote at the Lycee and many were complaining because they couldn't find their names on the electoral lists.
Although normally the streets are very empty on election day, today the roadside markets are functioning normally and women are selling all kinds of products throughout the city. One produce seller told our team, "Moun grangou pa al vote; Hungry people don't go to vote." Another remarked that the distance many voters were required to travel to vote discouraged them from participating.
Miami Herald's Jacqueline Charles (@jacquiecharles): Where are observers at grammer school in Cite Soleil? Young men encouraging voters to vote a candidate. Voters screaming can't find name
The mission, known as MINUSTAH, said in a press statement that by going to the polls in large numbers, Haitians would be able to "demonstrate their commitment to exercise their sovereign right to choose the leaders they trust."This, however, misses the point of why turnout was so low. Haiti's most popular party, Fanmi Lavalas, was arbitrarily excluded from the ballot (as Aristide was quick to point out upon his return) and confusion, outright fraud and poor organization made voting a near impossibility for thousands more. A look at recent tweets for those observing the election on the ground paints a picture of low turnout and a high number of irregularities once again:
Miami Herald's Jacqueline Charles (@jacquiecharles):It's still early but turnout very light. Maybe Haitians waiting - like they did on first round b4 cancellation call.
Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (@IJDH): Low turnout at Lycee Fermin polling station in PAP.
Melinda Miles (@melindayiti): School of the Republic of Chile supposed to have 952 voters but at this point ppl can't vote yet because no materials RT @ViveHaiti
"There will be irregularities," said Colin Granderson, head of the international OAS-led observer mission. "I asked if buses had been organized for camp refugees and nothing had been done; lists of registered voters are still missing."
If you want to get caught up with all the problems documented in the first round of balloting, you can check back on HRRW's Live-Blog from the first round or our subsequent reports documenting the numerous irregularities.
In the wrecked capital Port-au-Prince, several polling stations were unable to open on time because materials such as ink to mark voters’ fingers and labels to mark the urns had not arrived, witnesses said. Arguments also broke out over which officials and party representatives should be there.The Reuters report is confirmed by those observing the election who have been tweeting updates. Here are some of the recent updates from those on the ground:
Al Jazeera's Sebastian Walker (@sebwalker):Problems with Haiti vote seem worse at this point than in 1st round. Hearing of more complaints, seeing shorter lines than back in November
Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (@IJDH): Voting suspended for unknown reasons at Lycee Marie Jean, biggest polling place in PAP. Frustration mounting.
At a second polling station near Chan Mars. Again, no ballots, no ink, no voting yet. Another 4000 ppl registered here.
Miami Herald's Jacqueline Charles (@jacquiecharles): "I consider this a violation of my rights," Hernst Chery, 40, a social worker waiting to vote. Poll still not opened.
Melinda Miles (@melindayiti): In the west dept (PAP) there is no runoff for senator but there are ballot boxes for senator in the Lycee Petion downtown PAP