Haiti Archives 1995-1996
27/06/95 OBSERVERS CITE VOTING FRAUD, ORDERLINESS IN HAITI'S ARTIBONITE REGION
From: "James R. Lynch" <jlynch@cyber1.servtech.com>

Forwarded message: Date: Tue, 27 Jun 95 17:42 CDT

From: "Christian Peacemaker Teams" cpt@igc.apc.org

To: Multiple recipients of list cptnet@uci.com

Subject: (Fwd) For Gene, re:elections

CPTNET June 27, 1995

OBSERVERS CITE VOTING FRAUD, ORDERLINESS IN HAITI'S ARTIBONITE REGION

The following report from CPT long term workers in Haiti reflect the general tone of the Haitian elections in the Central Valley of Haiti.

A team of election observers from non-governmental organizations in Haiti witnessed fraud at polling places and evidence of corruption in the election office of the commune of Petite Riviere in Haiti's Artibonite Department. However, observers also noted orderliness among voters and polling stations that were running smoothly, with no signs of disorder or dishonest activity.

Brian Stevens, a US citizen, and Lena Siegers, a Canadian, observed the June 25 elections in Labadi, in the 3rd rural section of Petite Riviere, an FNCD Party stronghold. "I saw children vote and adults vote more than once. They didn't even try to hide it," he said. "I saw a man wearing an FNCD button holding three electoral cards in his hand. He gave one to a young man who appeared to be under age, and sent him to vote." When Stevens asked the youth how old he was, he fled. "That polling station had no voters' list at all. Anybody with an electoral card was allowed to vote there."

In one case a man who had voted at a station where Stevens had been in the morning came to vote at the station he'd moved to for the afternoon. Inking of the right thumb is supposed to prevent revoting, but many managed to clean it off. "I don't know how many cases I didn't catch," said Stevens.

There were many reports and observations of problems in voter lists at the polling stations in the town of Petite Riviere, as well as its rural sections. Many people were not able to vote because their names were not on the lists. "I found my card number on the list with somebody else's name," said Jean Gelain, coordinator of the AGAPA peasant organization. An observer talked with three people who found that someone had "registered" their deceased parents to vote. In the rural sections pages or entire voters lists were missing; in some of these cases, officials decided not to open those particular stations.

On a streetcorner in Petite Riviere the day after the election, ten out of a group of twenty people showed Stevens their uncanceled voter registration cards. All claimed to have been turned away from the polls because their names were not on the lists, or someone had voted in their names. Many disgruntled would-be voters blame the Petite Riviere electoral office for the problem. Local candidates have complained that that office is under the control of the KONAKOM party.

On the day of balloting, a pair of Lavalas party supporters was reported to have opened ballot boxes and strewn ballots on the floor of a Petite Riviere polling station after election officials refused their demand that the station close until the problem in the lists could be addressed. Two individuals were arrested, transferred to Saint Mark, and questioned. They were released Sunday evening.

The high level of illiteracy of Haiti's rural population presents special problems. Many people knew the name of a candidate they wanted, but did not know or could not interpret the party symbols on the ballot. Representatives from each party, called mandateurs were allowed inside the polling station. Election observer Duane Ediger, a US citizen who works in Petite Riviere, noted that a tall mandateur for KONAKOM in Savane a Roches, 4th section, stood consistently in the doorway leading from the registration desk to the voting booths. That passage was already narrowed by a table, forcing voters to brush past him as they entered to vote.

Observer Laurie Konwinski, a US citizen, was present in the same station when a Lavalas mandateur marked on the ballots of two women who were seeking help, but who had wanted their votes to go for other candidates. Mandateurs also put pressure on voters at that polling station by entering the voting room with no request from voters or voting officials. When Ediger suggested to the President of the polling station that mandateurs only be allowed into the station when they are requested by voters, he refused, saying that some voters vote more than one party. Because the BIV officials were asking people if they knew which candidates they wanted or which party representatives they needed, the secrecy of many people's ballots was not maintained.

Despite irregularities, observers believed that the will of the those who were able to vote was for the most part realized. No incidences of violence or threats were noted, and observers witnessed no fraud during the counting of ballots.

Unconfirmed reports from Petite Riviere commune: -six polling stations in the first rural section never opened. – all three polling stations in Jumelle, 3rd rural section, were forced to close at 10:00 a.m. because of actions by a candidate who didn't get on the ballot; -most of the twenty percent of eligible voters who registered in the extended registration period were barred from voting because not enough ballots were available.

Christian Peacemaker Teams, P. O. Box 6500, Chicago, IL

Tel/fax: 312-455-1199 email: cpt@igc.apc.org

FORWARDED BY: — Jim Lynch <written at Rochester, New York>

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