A local Haitian observation group has released a detailed report from election day, calling into question the legitimacy of the vote in many areas throughout Haiti. The group, made up of RNDDH, CNO and CONHANE, had observers present in 48 percent of voting centers throughout the country. The observers state that in more than 60 percent of polling centers where they were present there was massive fraud or attempted fraud, serious irregularities, intimidation and violent or aggressive acts.
The report continues:
The executive authorities, officials of the electoral body as well as many political parties and candidates each share a part of the blame for what can be considered an electoral fiasco.
In effect, after having spent four (4) years in power without holding elections that the people were calling for, after having spent four (4) years procrastinating and trying to place the blame on other actors involved in the elections, the executive authorities produced these electoral contests where the political parties of the ruling power, namely PHTK and Réseau National Bouclier Haîtien, have been identified as being, on the day of the election, the most aggressive in the perpetration of fraud and the use of electoral violence as a means to success.
The Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) has announced that elections will be re-run in 25 areas where the number of tally sheets counted was below 70 percent. The Senate election in the Artibonite will also be re-run in October. The local observers, however have questioned the transparency of this decision:
The CEP has not provided any information about the handling, at the level of the Tabulation Center, of the numerous irregularities related to ballot-box stuffing and vote fraud reported during the election of August 9 2015.
Moreover, the decision of the CEP to validate results from a Voting Center based on the relatively low threshold of 70% of tally sheets risks causing serious prejudice to candidates who were the target of violence by their opponents.
Although the CEP never produced a full list of voting centers that were closed or where significant problems ensued, the local observer report lists 104 voting centers where “massive fraud” and violence took place and where the voting was stopped, at least temporarily. Although Haiti’s electoral law specifically states that the suspension of the vote is not, in and of itself, grounds to annul an election, the closures, coupled with reports of fraud and violence certainly raises the question of whether results from these voting centers should be counted at all.
An analysis of the 104 voting centers where massive fraud and violence took place showed that in many cases the CEP never received any tally sheets from the centers. However, many voting centers that are listed by RNDDH produced tally sheets which were eventually accepted and counted by the CEP. If those additional tally sheets were excluded from the final results, many different races, at both the deputy and senate level would fall below the CEP’s 70 percent threshold.
To demonstrate how sensitive the CEP’s threshold is to small changes in the number of tally sheets accepted and counted, the breakdown below shows the impact of excluding tally sheets from voting centers listed in the local observer report.
Note: PVs are tally sheets produced from each Bureau du Vote (BV). Totals PVs is the total number of PVs if each BV in a given area had produced a tally sheet.
As can be seen, by removing tally sheets from voting centers listed by the RNDDH-led local observer group, four additional departments would need to re-run Senate elections: the Nord, Centre, Grand Anse and Ouest.
Half of PHTK’s eight Senate candidates advancing to the second round come from these departments and all four of Bouclier’s do as well. Verite would lose three of its seven Senate candidates. Both Bouclier and PHTK were warned by the CEP for their involvement in electoral violence in three of the four departments where Senate elections would no longer stand. Verite was singled out for its role in electoral violence in the Nord and Ouest departments, both areas where the party advanced Senate candidates.
The exclusion of additional tally sheets by the CEP would also impact the results of a number of races for Deputy, as can be seen below.
In addition to the 25 areas where the CEP has already announced elections will be re-run, the removal of tally sheets from the RNDDH list of voting centers puts 13 additional areas under the CEP’s 70 percent threshold.
In Port-au-Prince’s second district, the only polling center which appeared on the local observer report list and had tally sheets counted by the CEP was the Canape-Vert Market. According to the results released by the CEP, 16 of the 32 tally sheets from the market were never received, but the other 16 were counted. Simply by removing those additional 16 sheets, the district falls below the 70 percent threshold.
It is important to keep in mind as well that the local observers state that their list is only partial and based on their own observations. It’s likely that many more voting centers throughout the country experienced similar problems and tally sheets were still counted.
Certainly it may be the case that not all the voting centers listed experienced irregularities that require all the votes to be discarded, however the analysis above clearly shows the arbitrary nature of the CEP’s low threshold and the need for further transparency from the organization in terms of how it is determining which votes count and which are discarded.