Fact finding delegation reports an electoral coup now in process in Haiti

Every vote must count; Black lives matter in Haiti too

by 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

Following Haiti’s controversial presidential and legislative elections held on Sunday, Oct. 25, 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.

Voters waited eagerly to vote in Cite Soleil on Election Day, Oct. 25. One of the poorest neighborhoods in Port au Prince, Cite Soleil, a Lavalas stronghold, teems with a million people. – Photo: John Carroll
Voters waited eagerly to vote in Cite Soleil on Election Day, Oct. 25. One of the poorest neighborhoods in Port au Prince, Cite Soleil, a Lavalas stronghold, teems with a million people. – Photo: John Carroll

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 percent. 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.

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.

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, 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 3 p.m. 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 (U.N. 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 and 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 U.S. has a special responsibility to ensure a fair and transparent counting of the votes. The U.S. confirmed the Aug. 9 election, although fraud was rampant and the turnout ranged from 4 to18 percent. The U.S. has poured millions of dollars into the election, and observers say that any vote tampering would not be without the complicity of the U.S. 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 [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.”

In the upscale neighborhood of Petionville, at the polling place across the street from the plush new Hotel Kinam where President Michel Martelly and presidential candidate Jude Celestin had cast their votes earlier in the day, voters searched for their ID numbers on the wall prior to voting. – Photo: John Carroll
In the upscale neighborhood of Petionville, at the polling place across the street from the plush new Hotel Kinam where President Michel Martelly and presidential candidate Jude Celestin had cast their votes earlier in the day, voters searched for their ID numbers on the wall prior to voting. – Photo: John Carroll

John McDonnell, the U.K. 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 U.S. The U.S. 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.”

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 representative of the Global Women’s Strike in the U.S., England, Ireland, India and Peru.

Resources:

The delegation can be reached through Global Women’s Strike, at philly@globalwomenstrike.net.