Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Interview: Ricardo Seitenfus talks Haiti’s Doctored Elections on Dissent Magazine

National elections were held in Haiti less than one year after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake in January 2010 had killed 220,000 or more, left 1.5 million people homeless, and ravaged the country’s infrastructure. Accusations were rampant that the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) had introduced cholera into Haiti’s river system; the resulting epidemic would kill over 8,500 and sicken hundreds of thousands. The November 28 election was contested under crisis conditions. Hundreds of thousands of voters were either shut out of the electoral process or boycotted the vote after the most popular party in the country—Fanmi Lavalas—was banned from competing, as it had been numerous times since being overthrown in a coup in 2004. Many of those displaced by the earthquake were not allowed to vote, and in the end less than 23 percent of registered voters had their vote counted.

Eyewitness testimony on election day reported numerous electoral violations: ballot stuffing, tearing up of ballots, intimidation, and fraud. Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council (CEP), responsible for overseeing elections, announced that former first lady Mirlande Manigat had won but lacked the margin of victory needed to avoid a runoff. The Organization of American States (OAS) dispatched a mission of “experts” to examine the results. As a result, candidate and pop musician Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly was selected to compete in the runoff instead of the governing party’s candidate Jude Célestin.

The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) subsequently released a report showing that there were so many problems with the election tallies that the OAS’s conclusions represented a political decision rather than an electoral one. CEPR reported that the CEP either didn’t receive or quarantined tally sheets for some 1,326 voting booths; as a result, about 12.7 percent of the vote was not included in the final totals released by the CEP on December 7, 2010. When the OAS mission stepped in to review the tally sheets, it chose to examine only 8 percent of them, and those it discarded were from disproportionately pro-Célestin areas, as CEPR also noted. Nor did the OAS mission use any statistical inference to estimate what might have resulted had it examined the other 92 percent.

No comments:

Post a Comment