"[T]he second round of the presidential and legislative elections was quite an improvement in many ways on the first round," according to the joint OAS-CARICOM observation mission. Yet reports are now emerging that a high number of tally sheets (PVs) have been excluded due to fraud or irregularities. Le Nouvelliste and Radio Kiskeya both reported that 18 percent of the tally sheets that have been counted thus far have been quarantined. Le Nouvelliste added, however, that many of these are subject to continuing analysis that could allow them to eventually be counted. The problems associated with the excluded sheets include missing signatures of polling station members, ballot stuffing, and missing voter identification numbers, among other problems.
Radio Kiskeya reports that 4,427 tally sheets have been counted, out of a total of 11,182 and that of those, 18.7 percent (830), have been excluded for fraud or other irregularities. In the first round of the election, the CEP quarantined just 312 tally sheets, while the OAS recommended excluding an additional 234. Since the CEP never actually published detailed final results, it is impossible to determine how many sheets were actually excluded. Either way, with just a fraction of the tally sheets having been counted, it appears the number of irregular tally sheets already greatly exceeds the number from the first round. If the current rate of exclusion holds, then over 2,000 tally sheets will be excluded. If the current rate of exclusion holds, then over 2000 tally sheets will be discarded. Given a similar turnout to the first round, this would equal roughly 200,000 votes.
The OAS-CARICOM mission also noted that, "The measures adopted by the Provisional Electoral Council to address the major organizational failings and shortcomings of the first round did have positive results." Yet many of the areas with a high number of ballots excluded in the second round faced similar problems in the first round. Two of the areas mentioned by Le Nouvelliste are Verette in the Artibonite department and Grand Riviere du Nord in the North department. In the first round, in Verette, out of a total of 130 tally sheets, 71 were never reported, 28 were quarantined by the CEP, and another 13 were suggested for removal by the OAS. In total, 86 percent of the tally sheets in Verette were either missing or irregular. In Grand Riviere du Nord, 72 percent of tally sheets were missing or discarded in the first round.
Also worrying, as Radio Kiskeya reports, is the five percent of tally sheets that are missing. In the first round this number was even higher (10 percent), as violence and confusion on election day led to numerous voting centers closing. Never the less the five percent missing could have a significant impact. When we conducted the only independent review of all the tally sheets from the first round, we found that based on city-level estimates, if the 10 percent of tally sheets that were missing had been counted, Celestin would have been ahead of Martelly even after removing all the irregular tally sheets. This is because the missing sheets overwhelmingly came from proportionately more pro-Celestin areas of the country. This was a major factor in our determination that, "it is impossible to determine who should advance to a second round. If there is a second round, it will be based on arbitrary assumptions and/or exclusions." In private discussions, Fritz Scheuren, the lead statistical expert on the OAS verification commission, acknowledged that the OAS team conducted a similar analysis that reached the same conclusions, but did not include the analysis in their final report. This was one, of many, major flaws in the OAS report that, through intense U.S.-led international pressure, was used to exclude the government-backed candidate Jude Celestin from the run-off.
Although the high number of quarantined tally sheets is worrisome, it is a positive development that the CEP is applying stricter standards. In our analysis of the first round, in addition to those sheets excluded by the CEP, we found that another 7.6 percent (852) of the tally sheets contained results expected to occur less than 1 percent of the time.
Update 1:26 PM: Adding to the problems of the election, the Miami Herald's Jacqueline Charles recently tweeted, ""Preliminary #Haiti #elections results now delayed til April 4th." They had been set to be released this Thursday, March 31st.