Haiti voting better second time around
The OAS-CARICOM observer mission said the Provisional Electoral Council did a much better job than in the first round, but there were still shortcomings.
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Wednesday March 23, 2011 – The Organsiation of American States (OAS)-Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Electoral Observation Mission has given a much better grade to the second round of Haiti’s presidential and legislative elections.
The mission, which deployed 201 observers throughout the country, said the process on Sunday in which voters cast their ballots for either Mirlande Manigat or Michel Martelly, along with their preference from the legislative candidates, was “quite an improvement in many ways on the first round”.
It made specific mention of the fact that the political climate of Election Day was generally more peaceful, despite the friction and incidents of violence that took place during the last days of the campaign. According to the mission, the measures adopted by the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) to address the major organizational failings and shortcomings of the first round did have positive results.
“The problems related to the accuracy of the electoral registers and to the difficulties experienced by voters in finding their polling stations were far less prevalent. It is however clear that more work needs to be done with regard to the correctness of the voters lists. However, the intensification of the sensitization campaign on “Where to Vote” as well as the other mechanisms put in place was successful,” it said in a statement.
On another positive point, the observers noted an improved organisation in the majority of the polling stations they monitored. The mission said this was due to the improved performance of the electoral agents and to the proactive role of the Haitian National Police (HNP) which contributed to a more orderly and effective voting process, especially in the Voting Centres where there were a high turnout.
In a number of Departments, the observers said there was also an improvement in the performance of the supervisors and the poll workers, particularly in the better protected locations.
The reports of the observers also reflected a positive change in ensuring the security of the day of elections.
Violence, logistical problems mar poll
“The action of the security forces was better coordinated, better targeted, and their response more rapid. In this regard, the HNP, in coordination with the military and police units of the MINUSTAH, were far more proactive in preventing disruption of the electoral process, addressing incidents of violence as well as in improving crowd control,” is said, although noting there were some incidents of violence that tarnished the day of the vote including the shooting deaths of two men in clashes between opposing political groups in two separate rural areas.
The mission said the improvements of the second round were also tarnished by logistical problems which delayed the commencement of the vote in West Department in particular.
The operations of 60 Voting Centres were affected by errors in the delivery of the electoral kits and the sensitive voting material. Among other items, ballots, indelible ink and ballot boxes were missing. The observers also noted several instances where legislative ballots were sent to the incorrect locations.
The mission also observed problems limited to areas where the friction between candidates for the Lower House took the form of ballot stuffing and voter intimidation. Nevertheless, it said, these incidents were isolated and did not reflect the reality of the electoral process observed nationwide.
As for the voter turnout, it appeared to have been slightly higher than during the first round but the observers said it did not meet the expectations raised by the high number of voter requests for information during the “Where to Vote” campaign.
As tabulation of the votes continues, the OAS-CARICOM mission said it has established a team of observers and specialists trained to monitor the process.
“The Mission will have a continuous 24- hour presence in order to monitor the tabulation and verification processes as well as the implementation of the recommendations made by the OAS mission on the verification of the tabulation. The observers will monitor the tabulation procedures in order to determine if the criteria set out in the CTV Manual posted on the CEP website are being applied consistently,” it said.
The preliminary results are expected on March 31 while the final results will be announced on April 16.
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