A team of U.S.-based lawyers who witnessed last month’s Haitian elections say there is mounting evidence showing a clear pattern of systemic fraud, voter confusion and intimidation, and in some areas disenfranchisement. The report paints a grim picture of a flawed, chaotic electoral process on Oct. 25. Not only were voting procedures inconsistently applied at poorly designed polling stations, the report notes, but the widespread use of observer and political party accreditation led to people voting multiple times and potentially accounts for as much as 60 percent of the 1.5 million votes cast. “Without major corrective measures, these elections will represent a significant setback in Haiti’s long-struggle to consolidate democracy,” said the report based on the observations of a delegation of election monitors from the National Lawyers Guild and International Association of Democratic Lawyers Delegation.
The report’s release comes nearly a month after the vote to elect President Michel Martelly’s successor, and as the international community attempts to salvage the process amid growing and violent protest over allegations of fraud. Those accusations —political party monitors voting multiple times, ballot box stuffing and the manipulation of results at the vote Tabulation Center — have undermined many Haitians’ confidence in the announced results, despite international observers deeming them as acceptable.
While local observers have called for an independent recount of the votes, the CEP has rejected their request, saying it lacks the power to appoint such a verification commission. That commission, the report said, is important given the “deep mistrust” of the body charged with staging the vote—the Provisional Electoral Council, known as the CEP— and Martelly’s government.