Haiti’s repeatedly derailed presidential election finally went off relatively smoothly Sunday as the troubled nation tries to get its shaky democracy on a firmer foundation after nearly a year of being led by a provisional government. Polls closed late in the afternoon, and election workers set to work on an archaic and time-consuming process of counting paper ballots in front of political party monitors. The schools serving as voting centers where they gathered were lit by lanterns, candles and flashlights. No official results were expected to be issued for eight days, and Provisional Electoral Council executive director Uder Antoine has said it might take longer than that. Voter turnout appeared paltry in much of southwestern Haiti, which was ravaged by Hurricane Matthew last month and was drenched by rain Sunday. But in the crowded capital of Port-au-Prince and other areas, voters formed orderly lines and patiently waited to cast ballots even as some polling centers opened after the 6 a.m. scheduled start.
“This is my responsibility as a citizen,” said Alain Joseph, a motorcycle taxi driver and father of four who wore a bright pink sweatshirt to show his loyalty to the Tet Kale party of former President Michel Martelly. Pink is the faction’s color.
Police reported some isolated incidents of voter intimidation and disruptions, including an attempt to burn a voting center in the northern town of Port Margot. Across the country of over 10 million people, there were 18 arrests by early afternoon.
Leopold Berlanger, president of the electoral council, told reporters that authorities were satisfied with how the day progressed even though balloting could not take place in two isolated districts. He said officials would examine complaints by people who couldn’t find their names on voter lists.