Live Updates on Today's Elections

Today, as Haitians head to the polls, IJDH's Nicole Phillips (@BuddhistLawyer) and CEPR's Jake Johnston (@JakobJohnston), who are in Haiti with delegates from the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, Réseau National de Défense des Droits Humains and the National Lawyers Guild, will be providing reports throughout the day. The delegation will observe polling places throughout country, with a focus on the South and Grand’Anse Departments, which were devastated by Hurricane Matthew on October 3-4. The difficult conditions caused by the storm have called into question whether voters in these regions will be able to exercise their right to vote as protected by Haitian and international law. This space will be updated throughout the day with on-the-ground reports, so please check back frequently, or follow Haiti Election Blog (@HaitiVoteBlog) on Twitter. We cannot verify every report, but will try to verify the most serious incidents.


UPDATE 11:58 PM: Port-au-Prince voters on why they came out to cast their ballots, via the Miami Herald's Jacqueline Charles:

"I came to vote today for change, to have a beautiful Haiti, to put an end to this rising cost of living."
- Dieunet Joseph, 50, Petionville.

"We're here to give the international community a lesson. This time, the people will not sleep. We are fed up."
- Rita Pierre, 32, Petionville.

"If I don't vote, it's like I don't hope for anything serious for my country. We're living in a country where we don't have a serious government. It doesn't make sense. For more than two years, we've been trying to elect a president and we can't. We have to give this country another image."
- Calixte Edme, 52, Martissant.

And via the Associated Press' David McFadden:

"This is my responsibility as a citizen."
- Alain Joseph, a motorcycle taxi driver, father of four, and proud PHTK supporter.

"Women protect women. They make good changes. The men, they boss you and beat you too hard."
- Helene Olivier, 72, who voted Fanmi Lavalas candidate Maryse Narcisse.

"All I know is the next government needs to start picking up the trash around here again. Under the interim government, we've had no garbage collection here at all."
- Nicolas Michel, a math teacher and part-time welder.

UPDATE 11:22 PM: Voices from the South, via RFI's Stefanie Schuler:

"Given the ruinous state of the country, it has been a long time that there are no leaders to govern it. Us, after the passage of the hurricane, we lost everything. We may have received a bit of aid, but now we need leaders. That's why I came to vote."
- Dieutêne Raymond, 74, Grand'Anse

"We need a chief to be respected. Someone that will be by our sides when there is a problem."
- Elianis Médile, 70, Grand'Anse

And via Reuters' Makini Brice:

"We are in a political crisis. We need an elected government to get out of this situation."
- 19-year-old Launes Delmazin, 19, Les Cayes (Sud)

"The country has been destroyed. We want the country to return to a normal state."
- Luc Albert Jean-Claude, a 74-year-old farmer casting his vote in Damassin (Sud).

UPDATE 9:36 PM: Electoral council and police officials positively assessed the elections, at an end-of-day press conference. The CEP said it not able to give an estimate of voter turnout, but CEP President Berlanger claimed that turnout in the hurricane-affected south was decent, and perhaps even higher than in the rest of the country. Overall, there were 43 arrests during election day, including 7 for illegal possession of arms and 6 for assault. The CEP promised to release the preliminary results within eight days. Berlanger said that although voting was finished, the electoral match was only at half-time. The second half would be hinge on achieving public acceptance of the results.


Image: Jean-Michel Caroît

UPDATE 7:17 PM: Interim President Jocelerme Privert and Prime Minister Enex Jean-Charles held a joint press conference at the Prime Minister's residence. Privert and Jean-Charles declared that they were satisfied with the elections, but warned against "triumphalism." Privert appealed for calm in the post-election period.

UPDATE 5:33 PM: Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald spoke to the OAS's Gerardo de Icaza about the election day:
Gerardo de Icaza, director of the Organization of American States' department for Electoral Cooperation and Observation Secretariat echoed those sentiments. His 130 observers around the country had registered only "a few minor incidents," he said. The previous presidential vote on Oct. 25, 2015, was marred by allegations of widespread fraud that eventually triggered the rerun. A rerun that had been set for Oct. 9 was pushed back six weeks after Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti.
"We have not observed any incidents out of the ordinary," he said. "We're more optimistic than on Oct. 25. We hope things continue this way."
The OAS had publicly praised the October 25 2015 elections when they were held, but took a more critical view after an independent verification commission found evidence of widespread fraud and irregularities. Was OAS aware internally that the October 25 elections were problematic when they endorsed them, as De Icaza's statement suggests?

UPDATE 4:46 PM: Polls closed at 4pm. Now, the vote count has begun, with each voting bureau opening the ballot boxes and tallying the votes under the supervision of mandataires and election observers.


UPDATE 4:03 PM: OAS chief observer Juan Raul Ferreira says Haiti's elections are unfolding normally, noting only a few isolated incidents without consequence. The OAS has deployed 130 observers to monitor the vote. 


UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General Sandra Honoré visited several voting centers and celebrated the conduct of the vote.

UPDATE 3:27 PM: In Boucan Carré (Centre), PHTK deputy candidate Jude Jean has complained to the press that more than a dozen of his supporters have been arrested. Police arrested 14 young people in three separate operations; 8 are still in custody while 6 others have been released provisionally. Jean accused his rival from OPL of organizing "a vast operation of violence" against him and his camp, with the complicity of the local police inspector. The PHTK candidate called on the CEP and the government to intervene. Other sources, however, told Rezonodwes that Jude Jean's sympathizers had been arrested because of their behaviour and their attempts to disrupt the electoral process.

UPDATE 2:50 PM: RNDDH's Jessica Hsu estimates that at Ecole National de Filles in Dame Marie (Grand'Anse), over 50 people could not find their names on electoral lists. The majority had noted that they were on the initial partial electoral lists. One found his name inside a voting bureau but not the electoral list posted outside.


In Les Cayes, Jake Johnson reports similar problems, with names on electoral lists posted outside not always matching those inside voting bureaus. Poll workers claimed this problem was rather limited.

UPDATE 2:24 PM: IJDH's Nicole Phillips visited Ecole Nationale Vigner in Archahaie (Ouest) and found, like everywhere else, many people couldn't find their name on electoral list. There were also 2-3 people with mandataire cards which didn't correspond with their CIN. They turned card over so no one would notice.

Earlier, Phillips was at Ecole National de Petit Cazeau in Port-au-Prince where a group of people approached her delegation to complain that their names weren't on the electoral lists, a common complaint of many voters. The school's voting bureaus were still mostly empty.

UPDATE 2:16 PM: At its mid-day press conference, CEP President Léopold Berlanger declared: "We see that it's a day that has unfolded in calm, and in serenity and that has unfolded well up until now." Berlanger noted that 18 troublemakers had been arrested by police throughout the country and noted that a few isolated incidents of violence had occurred on election day, in Port Margot (attempted arson) Plaisance and Trou du Nord. In Vallières (Nord-Est) and Roseau (Grand’Anse) 4 voting centers could not open their doors, according to the CEP. "There were voting centers that did not receive voting materials on time or at all." In two instances, the CEP resorted to helicopters to transport the materials.


Image: Jacqueline Charles 

UPDATE 12:54 PM: After a sluggish start, Haitian media are reporting that turnout is picking up, with long lines at many voting centers. Radio Kiskeya reported that turnout was strong in many popular neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince, especially Cité Soleil. At several polling places in Cap-Haitïen, large numbers of voters have come out, despite the rains.



Image: Nelson Deshommes (@viablesolitaire) 

UPDATE 11:52 AM: Jake Johnston interviewed Haitian police officers in Camp-Perrin (Sud), confirming that 5 people had been arrested yesterday in possession of an estimated 300-500 CIN cards, identification cards which are necessary to vote. The town's mayor (affiliated with PHTK) said the cards were collected for food distribution. Fraudulent votes cast with false CIN cards or cards not belonging to the holder were a major problem during the October 25 election, the independent verification commission found.

Several officers were frustrated that they couldn't vote because there were not on the electoral list. This is a change from last year, when police officers were allow to vote without being on the electoral list.

UPDATE 11:35 AM: Two improvements noted so far by observers: better indelible ink and voting booths that provide more privacy. During the October 25 2015 election, many observers noted that the ink, which was put on the thumbnail of voters, did not work well as a safeguard against multiple voting since it was of poor quality and washed off easily. This time, voters have to dip their thumbs in ink.


Image: @jdanielsenat

The voting booths are also better than those used in 2015, as they allow for greater secrecy of the vote.


Image: Philippe de Bard

UPDATE 11:04 AM: The Port-au-Prince prosecutor reports that police have made 3 arrests in Bel-Air and 7 arrests in Pétionville, in the latter case because individuals were throwing rocks at voting centers.

UPDATE 10:47 AM: Le National's Walter Cameau reports that a Senate candidate, Randevou's Dormeville Gerard, was arrested in Gonaives (Artibonite) after trying to disrupt a voting center.

UPDATE 10:08 AM: In Port Salut (Sud Department), Jake Johnson reports that turnout is low, which a polling station supervisor said was because voters in the hurricane-hit area were discouraged. Some of those who wanted to vote couldn't find their names on the electoral list. When a group of voters texted the CEP to find where they are registered to vote, they were told to go to Ile-à-Vache. There were very few mandataires and several polling stations had to open without the minimum three mandataires required by law.

UPDATE 9:30 AM: The first few hours of voting have been calm across the country with the voter turnout still being quite low. There is been an increase in female party representatives (mandataires) assuring the smooth running of the elections. 

Jocelerme Privert, Haiti's Provisional President,  has cast his vote in Trou de Nippes. 

Image credit @toujoula

UPDATE 8:40 AM: Despite initial delays and some irregularities noted in Pétionville, the election day is calm. Although the overall participation is still low, an increase in women's voting particiption has been noted, in comparison with last year. 


Image credit @gaetantguevara

Haitian National Police urges voters not to spread unverified rumours and the Ministry of Communication opened special phone lines to report any incidents that might affect the smooth running of the election day.


UPDATE 7:50 AM: Michel Martelly, Haiti's former president, has arrived in Lycée National voting centre in Pétion ville to cast his vote, amid some tension among the voters.  The former president made no official statement yet. 

With almost an hour of delay, the voting has finally started in Canapé Vert. Otherwise, there is calm in the streets.


Image credit @gaetantguevara

UPDATE 7:00 AM: With some delay, voting finaly started at 6.30 am in Lycée Jean Jacques Dessalines, in Port au Prince. There are hardly any mandataires (party representatives) but the voting is calm.


Image credit @BuddhistLawyer

UPDATE 6:39 AM: Despite the official opening time set for 6 am, many voting centres are not ready yet, including one of the biggest centres in Port au Prince, Canapé Vert and Croix des Bouquets.  
 

Image credit @jdanielsenat

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