News and opinions on situation in Haiti
 
14/2/06

HLLN details how CEP violated its own laws | If blank votes are to be counted, they are to be counted at the polling stations not by the CEP | Top Haiti Candidate to Challenge Vote

 

   

HLLN Report on Haitian Election Laws, Feb. 14, 2006

SUMMARY:
HLLN finds that the CEP violated their own laws: As per the electoral law that the de facto CEP authorities themselves wrote, the examination of ballots was supposed to have taken place at the polling stations (Bureau de vote), not the CEP in Port au Prince.

Thus, the so-called blank votes are illegally being re-examined by CEP authorities. The blank votes are specious because 1) they should have already been decided upon, if at all, and reflected in the ballot tallies; 2 ) and most important, there is evidence that Haiti has NEVER before counted blank votes in its election tallies and this is a new high tech method invented by the illegal authorities to continue the coup d’etat through rig elections and denial of the expressed will of the people of Haiti. Bernard has said the blank votes are voided and the decisions to null votes are made by individual polling stations. So, if blank are voided, why are they being included in the vote count. If blank or null votes are voided at the individual polling stations, why are they being re-examine at the tabulation center in Port-au-Prince? (Compare statements (excerpted below), made by Jacques Bernard, the Director General of the CEP, on Feb. 12, 2006 in articles written by Andrew Selsky with article written by Guy Delva. See also CEP Article 185, which addresses the issue of blank votes.)

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HLLN Report on Haitian Election Laws, Feb. 14, 2006

HLLN’s preliminary review show that the CEP members have violated their own electoral laws MULTIPLE times in order to rig these elections and deny the will of the people of Haiti. (See electoral law at: to www.cep-ht.org/loielectoral.html or www.archivex-ht.com/feed/loi_electoral.php. See, HLLN’s unofficial translation of Article 184 through 195 of the Haitian (CEP) electoral laws.)

Before we even begin to comment on the actual letter of the electoral laws article by relevant article. HLLN draws attention to the circumstances that brought about this de facto 9-member Electoral Council, most drawn from political parties that help destroy Haiti’s Constitutional Aristide/Neptune government. (See the preamble to the electoral laws, where it is clearly stated that the foundation of the CEP laws rest on mandates negotiated, after the ouster of Haiti’s elected government with the international community, the OAS and the coup d’etat minority in Haiti and therefore without the sanction of the Haitian constitution or the necessary mandate of law or the people of Haiti: –

‘Ö..Vu l’entente convenue entre la Communauté Internationale, les organisations de la société civile et les partis politiques portant création de la Commission Tripartite et du Conseil des Sages ;
Vu l’Accord de Consensus sur la Transition Politique du 4 avril 2004Ö’

Also, not only is the CEP unconstitutional, like the Boca Raton regime is unconstitutional, Jacques Bernard, the director general of the CEP has no legal basis according, to even CEP laws, and certainly with respect to the coup d’etat, no constitutional basis to hold his position as ‘Director General’ of Haiti’s de facto electoral council. Fact is the CEP’s own laws provides for the CEP to have 9-members. Jacques Bernard is not even an official member of the Haiti’s de facto electoral council. He has no legal standing or even CEP authority to be calling press conferences and or to be in charge of publishing the official results of the Feb. 7, 2006 elections. It was the anti-democratic Gerard Latortue who named Jacques Bernard as ‘Director General’ and imposed him on the CEP 9-members, even though CEP laws, doesn’t allow for a Director general. (See, Article 4 of the CEP, Conseil Electoral Provisoire – www.cep-ht.org/loielectoral.html )

It’s clear we are dealing within a totally lawless situation.

However, if we were, for argument sake, to accept that this transitional government has some extra-constitutional authority to preside over these elections and the people of Haiti and so thereby were to review the laws, which these extra-constitutional authorities themselves, have decreed, since the coup d’etat to govern Haiti’s elections, we find conclusively that the sometimes contradictory, vague, unrealistic (See, art. 17 & 18), unclear (art. 14-29) and almost nonsensical CEP laws, show clearly just two things, 1) these laws were written to confound, manipulate and exclude as many of the electorate as possible to assure electoral victory for the GNBis/Coup D’etat minority (See, for example art. 83) and, 2) even so, the CEP violated its own laws over and over again, several times and very consistently, beginning with the requirement that polling workers be there to open the polling stations at 6 am for business and that voting stations be placed where the people had registered to vote. (See Article 168, 169, and 158, which were, of course, widely violated.)

The list of additional violations of CEP laws is exhaustive. But HLLN outlines below, a few examples of the more egregious violations, so far, by the CEP of its own laws that, in reality, has simply worked to deny the Haitian voters their vote rights:

Art. 52: requires that the lists of voters be posted in the circonscriptions 30 days prior to the vote. This was not done by the CEP ahead of the Feb. 7, 2007 elections as required.

Art. 158: Article 158 was violated because of the failure to place voting stations in Site Soley and at places where the people got their voting cards. Article 158. Require, at a minimum there to be polling stations wherever there was a voter registration center, but that there can be additional places to go vote beyond where there are registration centers. This article was certainly violated, and in numerous regions where the people went to vote where they had registered only to find no voting station there. Or, went to vote where they were told the polling station would be re-located, to find it was not there! Given the two years reign of terror to silence the masses, it is not surprising that many believe these CEP-created problems were intentionally engineered, by the minority in power in Haiti with no chance of winning an election by fair means, to exclude thousands upon thousands of Haitians from exercising their right to vote.

BLANK VOTES SHOULD NOT BE COUNTED BY THE CEP:

The blank votes are critical because knowledgeable observers believe they appear as the latest tools being used to manipulate the results and force a second round, thereby increasing the chances for violence and need for UN/US and the internationals to RESTORE ORDER – that is, to continue to maintain their de facto reign longer, deny Haitian sovereignty further.

There is some controversy even within the CEP as to when it started to count the blank votes. See, the two contradictory reports by AP reporter, Andrew Selsky, reporting that according to Jacques Bernard the decision to null votes is made by the polling stations, and then, a Guy Delva article, also dated Feb 12, 2004, where ‘a spokesman for the election council spokesperson said blank votes had NOT been counted in past elections. See the relevant excerpts from these noted articles written by two major international reporting agencies:

By ANDREW SELSKY

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Feb 12 (AP) —

“…Jacques Bernard, the council’s director general, said Saturday the
ballots were VOIDED because they were blank or not clearly marked, among other reasons. He denied the council voided many votes for Preval.

“The decision to null votes is made by individual polling stations,”
Bernard told reporters.”… (Emphasis added)
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By Joseph Guyler Delva
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Feb 12 (Reuters)

Bernard was not immediately available for reply to the charge.

Adding to the controversy was the issue of 72,000 blank ballots, on which no vote was cast. Even though they contained no vote, they were being added to vote totals used to calculate each candidate’s percentage. The net effect was to lower each candidate’s percentage, dropping Preval 50 percent.

A spokesman for the election council said blank votes had not been counted in past elections. (Emphasis added)
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It is not just statements made by the CEP, or the circumstance of these (s)elections, which indicates something, is fishy with the sudden center-stage appearance of the so-called blank (or ‘blan’) votes. There’s a credible legal argument to be made, that even according the CEP’s own written laws, the ‘blank’ votes should not be counted in the total.

This is crucial because without the blank votes Presidential Candidate and front-runner Rene Preval’s current ‘official’ percentage of 48.76% would reach above the threshold 50% plus 1 required to avoid a runoff and declare a Rene Preval and Haitian people’s victory.

Article 185 governing the counting of blank votes, states:

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‘Article 185.- Ballots marked by a cross, an ‘X’ or any other sign unequivocally signifying the elector’s intentions to vote, in the space in the space (circle, picture, logo) reserved for a candidate are validated and counted.

Blank ballots are validated and counted.

Ballots where the Bureau can’t identify the elector’s intention or political will are declared void.’ (See CEP laws www.cep-ht.org/loielectoral.html and HLLN unofficial translations of Art. 184 to 195 below.)

HLLN Unofficial Translation of Haiti’s (CEP) electoral regulations, Article 185 to 195 (See Original French of the CEP laws at: (See CEP laws www.cep-ht.org/loielectoral.html )

Article 185 is ambivalent and could be argued to both allow and deny the counting of blank votes. It leaves a lot of room for manipulation and massive fraud. For instance, the rule that ìBlank ballots are validated and countedî seems to contradict and negate the rule that ìBallots where the Bureau canít identify the electorís intention or political will are declared voidî and vice versa. Thus, if the candidate you want to win is ahead, you donít count the blank votes and that is legal according to Article 185. Also, if the candidate you donít want to win is ahead, you COUNT the votes, and that too appears legal. Point is, if ballots where the voter’s intention is not clear are considered “nul”, and thus not counted, how can the authorities count blank ballots? How can they say that a blank ballot clearly indicates a voter’s intention? This is PRECISELY why today, in the streets of Haiti, the people are saying these elections were RIGGED in favor of the Group 184/CEP-members political party affiliations to begin with!

But if one were to agree that Article 185 seemingly ALLOWS for blank votes to be COUNTED. Then, the problem is first who can legally examine, sort and count said blank votes? The CEP tabulation center in Port au Prince, or, were they to be counted at the individual polling stations and reflected in the reported tallies sent to the CEP?

Also, the great number of blank votes being reported (figures reported range from 4% to 15%) in a country where blank votes have not ever been counted before (according to a CEP spokesperson); in a country where the great many of Haiti’s people are very politically savvy and could not be imagined to have walked for hours and hours to get to the polling stations, stood in long, long lines, hungry, thirsty, braving violence, arbitrary imprisonment, just to then cast a BLANK vote? This simply not believable.

If one were to agree that blank votes are allowed, the second problem is its veracity in view of all the irregularities at the polling stations. For, at the individual polling stations one has to be confident that all the voting urnes were empty at the start of the voting and that no one dropped blank ballots in any of the urnes at any time during the day, or even sometime when they got to the tabulation center in Port au Prince.

It must also be assumed that election observers would have noticed that and protested. Were there or, are there any protests with respect to this and when will they be made public?

Does the total number of ballots received at the polling stations match exactly the number of ballots placed in the urnes plus the blank ballots left over that were never voted and including the voided ballots? Were the authorized voting observers present at the pore-opening of the polling stations when the blank ballots were counted. But Art. 169 governing the opening of the polling stations doesn’t require that voting observers be present to see the number of ballots that started out the day. It simply says that the staff members at the polling stations should be present. But what about the observers and mandataires to avoid irregularities? (See, Articles 169, 186, 187, 188, 189)

Article 171 requites the president at the polling station to open up the urnes and show TO THOSE PRESENT the interior is empty but Article 169 doesn’t say that the observers have to be amongst those present, only the polling staff members.

But even if blank votes are not null it is without question that the CEP has no legal right to COUNT OR DETERMINE WHICH VOTES SHOULD BE COUNTED

The most egregious violation, so far, in these elections is that the actual ballots were NOT supposed to be at the tabulation center in Port au Prince. Only the official reports éprocés-verbaux’; that is only the ballot TALLIES, already examined and counted were to reach the tabulation center in Port au Prince.

Again, HLLN makes clear only the already COMPILED sheet of the ballots. (See article 191 below) should be at the tabulation center in Port au Prince. The examinations of ballots should have taken place at the Bureau de vote, first. See Article 191, 192 and 193. Therefore the CEP is in clear violation of its own laws.

(To examine the original French of the CEP articles translated below, go to www.cep-ht.org/loielectoral.html or www.archivex-ht.com/feed/loi_electoral.php.

Marguerite Laurent, Esq.
Founder and Chair,
Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network
Feb. 14, 2006

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HLLN unofficial translation of the CEP electoral laws article 184 to 195.

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Section F. Of Examination (Counting of votes)

Article 184.- The count begins once the polling station closes. It continues nonstop in the presence of recognized party representatives, political groups or political coalitions, tickets and candidates, and of duly mandated national and international observers. Nobody can leave or enter the voting bureau (polling station) unless they have a special authorization from the voting bureau president.

Article 185.- Ballots marked by a cross, an ‘X’ or any other sign unequivocally signifying the elector’s intentions to vote, in the space in the space (circle, picture, logo) reserved for a candidate are validated and counted.

Blank ballots are validated and counted.

Ballots where the Bureau can’t identify the elector’s intention or political will are declared void.

Article 186.- Prior to opening the urns (containing the votes), the unused ballots are counted and placed in a previously designated envelops. These envelopes are sealed; the number of ballots placed in these envelopes is recorded on each envelope as well as the official ballot examination report, as per article 189.

Article 187.- For each urn, the president counts out aloud, for all present to see and know:

– The ballots obtained and expressed in favor of a coalition or a candidate;

– The blank ballots;

– The ballots declared void.

Upon counting each category of ballots, he classifies them in three piles according to directives indicated by paragraph 1, 2 and 3 of the first subparagraph.

Article 188.- Upon counting all the votes, the members of the bureau of vote (polling stations) classify the ballots from each urn in separate envelops, the following way:

– Valid votes for a coalition or a candidate

– Blank votes

– Void votes

Article 189.- The president subsequently draws the official report of examination (counting), noting:

– The number of ballots received;

– The total number of used ballots;

– The number of unused ballots;

– The number of votes expressed in favor of candidates or ticket;

– The number of blank ballots;

– The number of voided ballots;

– Protests of recognized representatives of political parties, groups or coalitions, tickets or candidates, based on decisions of members of the bureau of vote;

– Any incident they deem relevant enough to figure in the official report of examination (counting) of the vote.

He gives three (3) examination (counting) official report originals directly to the Bureau Electoral Communal (BEC) supervisor.

Article 190.- The official report of the examination (counting) is drawn up, then signed by the Bureau of vote (polling station) members, and the recognized representatives of political parties, groups or coalitions, tickets or candidates. The official report is prepared in at least six (6) signed originals. If the recognized representative of a political party, group or coalition, ticket or candidate, refuses to sign the official report, the motives or allegations prompting the refusal will be duly noted. The protests have no immediate bearing and can only have an effect at a later date. If a majority of the recognized representatives of political parties, groups or coalitions, tickets or candidates refuse to sign the official report; the BED – Bureau …lectoral Départemental or Departmental Electoral Bureau – will automatically take over and will intervene without delay to resolve the problem. A copy of the official report will be given to the supervisor as well as each mandated representatives of political parties, groups or coalitions, tickets or candidates that are present.

Article 191.- An original of the official report is posted at the door of the Bureau de vote (polling station) by the president of the bureau, and the other originals are forwarded as follows:

– One to the BEC

– Two to the BED that will in turn forward one to the CEP

– The others go to the candidate representatives that witnessed the examination (counting).

Article 192.- The President of the Bureau de vote (polling station) surrenders to the BEC, in envelops previously prepared for that purpose, the following documents:

– The official report (procés-verbal) of the opening of the polling station;

– The official report (procés-verbal) of the closing of the polling station;

– Two official reports (procés-verbaux) of ballot examination (counting);

– Electors’ register;

– The papers used for the count;

– The verified ballots envelops mentioned by articles 186 and 188;

– A list of contents.

The BEC retains an original version of the official report of the examination, the envelops containing the ballots used and unused, and forwards the rest to the BED. The BED retains an official report of the examination and forwards the rest to the CEP.

Article 193.- Upon compiling the votes submitted on the official reports, the BEC posts the results of all compiled ballots on the door of the (BEC) Bureau Electoral Communal (Communal Electoral Bureau).

Within twenty-four hours, the BEC forwards a complete report to the BED (Bureau …lectoral Départemental) (Departmental Electoral Bureau).

Section G. Of Publishing the Results

Article 194.- Upon reviewing all BEC reports, official reports and unofficial, the BED publishes, without delay, the elections results for the department that concerns it, noting when there are protests of candidates or recognized representatives of political parties, groups or coalitions. The BED draws up a report including all relevant data found in the official reports as well as all protests of candidates or recognized representatives of political parties, groups or coalitions. This report is transmitted to the CEP within at most forty-eight hours. The results of all voting are posted on the door of the BED (Bureau Electoral Departmental).

Article 195.- The CEP, upon resolving all problems, proclaims the elections’ final results.

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By STEVENSON JACOBS, Associated Press Writer
Feb. 14, 2006

Leading presidential candidate Rene Preval, claiming on Tuesday there was “probably gigantic fraud” that would deny him a first-round victory, urged supporters to protest nonviolently and said he would contest the results.

Tens of thousands of Preval’s backers, most of them from Haiti’s majority poor, have flooded the streets of the capital since Sunday to peacefully what they called a rigged Feb. 7 election. White U.N. armored vehicles on Tuesday shoved aside some roadblocks of junked cars, old refrigerators and other debris that were laid across the streets of the capital on Monday.

Preval urged supporters to remove all roadblocks so people could get to work.

“I ask the Haitian people … to be mature, to be responsible, to be nonviolent,” Preval told a news conference while sitting on a couch on the lawn of his gated home in Petionville suburb.

The last time results were posted on the electoral council’s Web site was at midday Monday, when Preval ó a former president and agronomist ó had 48.76 percent of the vote with 90 percent of ballots counted. He needs 50 percent plus one vote to win outright and avoid a March runoff with second place candidate Leslie Manigat, also a former president.

“If they publish the results as they are now, we will oppose them, the Haitian people will also oppose them, and there will be protests,” Preval said.

He didn’t say how they would oppose the results.

U.N. spokesman David Wimhurst has said there has been no evidence of fraud in the elections as alleged by Preval.

“If he believes there have been irregularities, he has the right to request an investigation,” Wimhurst told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

An official with the European Union, which has election observers here, said the mission has refrained from commenting on the vote count.

“The situation is volatile and difficult, and we do not want to make any declaration,” she said on condition of anonymity because she was not an official EU spokesperson. The Canadian observer group also refused to comment.

“We do not want to speculate on what happened before final results are made public,” said Elections Canada spokeswoman Valerie Hache on the phone from Canada.

The vote-counting center in an industrial park in Port-au-Prince was closed and completely empty. The U.N. said pro-Preval demonstrations were preventing election personnel from going to work, and many counting centers had closed because of security concerns.

In New York, the U.N. Security Council urged Haitians to respect election results and refrain from violence and extended the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti for six months, until Aug. 15.

Preval, the former protege of ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, said the elections were being rigged to prevent him from leading this impoverished Caribbean nation.

“We have observed there have been gross errors and probably gigantic fraud,” he said, adding that the official results “do not correspond with reality.”

He urged followers to “respect people’s belongings” and to be on guard against provocateurs who try to foment violence.

On Monday, he met the top U.N. official in Haiti and ambassadors from the United States, France, Canada and Brazil. “We want to see how we can save the process” he said afterward.

Manigat, another former president, had 11.8 percent of the vote count. His wife, Myrlande Manigat, declined to say whether anyone had approached him about withdrawing.

“We are not negotiating,” she said in a telephone interview. “Our position is to wait until the (electoral council) releases the results.”

A popularly elected government with a clear mandate from the voters is seen as crucial to avoiding a political and economic meltdown in the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation. Gangs have gone on kidnapping sprees and factories have closed for lack of security.

Of the 2.2 million ballots cast, about 125,000 ballots have been declared invalid because of irregularities, raising suspicion among Preval supporters that polling officials were rigging the election.

Another 4 percent of the ballots were blank but were still added into the total, making it harder for Preval to obtain the 50 percent plus one vote needed.

Jacques Bernard, director-general of the nine-member electoral council, has denied accusations that the council voided many votes for Preval.

Special U.N. envoy to Haiti, Juan Gabriel Valdes, said late Monday he didn’t believe there was fraud.

“I’m fully confident the process was correct. Of course, there might be mistakes, and these mistakes have to be examined,” he said.

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Associated Press Writer Andrew Selsky contributed to this report.

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