Sunday, August 9, 2015

Live Updates on Today's Legislative Elections - August 9

Today Haiti is going to the polls. Long-delayed, the first-round legislative elections held today (August, 9) are seen by many as a test before the presidential elections to be held later on in the year. Official observers from OAS, the European Union and Haitian civil society organizations, as well as a team from the Haiti Elections Blog collaboration have been closely following the developments since the opening of the polls today.  

This Live Blog will include reports obtained by a) our own observers on the ground, b) the team's direct communications with observers, journalists and others on the ground, c) SMS reports to our ground-sourcing platform, and public sources. We cannot verify every report, but will try to verify the most serious incidents. We are also distributing information via our Twitter feed, and on our Electoral Incidents map.

Update 11PM:

Just recieved an observer report that in the Voting Center of Menvyel, in the 1st section of Chansolme, NorthWest Department, armed men threatened the voting center supervisor with a gun, and forced him to accept filled-in ballots that they presented. According to several people interviewed, the men were supprters of former Deputy and current Deputy candidate Pierre Martin Tatout.  Sources also claim that PNH and MINUSTAH units were nearby and did not intervene to stop the attack. Many other sources in the area claimed they had been offered bribes to vote for Mr. Tatout.

Other important news includes:
-the CEP estimates that 4% of the Voting Centers were disturbed, covering 290,000 of Haiti's 5.8 million voters.
-the CEP says it cannot provide an estimate of turnout at this time.
-the CEP estimates that 90% of CVs had at least three mandataires
-the CEP estimates that as of 9:30 this morning, 98% of voting centers were open, 92% of electoral material had been distributed.
-the CEP reporths that the problem with political party's mandataire authorizations was the result of a theft by a Counsel employee, who has been a fugitive since Saturday. The employee denied the allegations on his Facebook account.
-the Ministry of the Interior reports that the City Hall of Limbe was burned;
the police report arresting 137, 21 in Port-au-Prince, and confiscated  23 guns. 3 officers injured;
-the CEP appear to blame the PNH for failing to provide adequate security; claims that MINUSTAH was not deployed today for electoral security

Update 4:20 PM:  
The polls are supposed to be closed now, although there are some reports that some late-opening Centers have extended hours. And as usual in Haitian elections, voters in line at closing time will be allowed to vote.

There continue to be reports of problems with access to vote and electoral violence coming in. We will have all of the reports we have plotted out on our Election Incident Map as soon as we can. 
But the most troubling development is insistence that these elections are fine, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary (with even more evidence likely to stream in over the next 24 hours), by the Electoral Council, Haitian officials and important members of the international community.

The head of the European Union/Organization of American States observer delegation said the elections were happening with “almost total normalcy.” The CEP has insisted that things were going well throughout the day. The website and twitter feed of MINUSTAH, the UN military mission, contain many positive observations with almost no mention of problems.

There is, unfortunately, precedent for the international community imposing poor elections and manipulated results on Haiti’s voters. For starters, read this article based on an interview with the head of the OAS electoral mission in 2010, who saw the manipulation first-hand.

The good news is that this is 2015, not 2010. There are many credible voices, from Haitian civil society, from Haitian and foreign journalists and from foreign observers that have documented the problems.  More will come out in the following days. Many are cited in this blog, more are in our Twitter feed. We can get these voices out so they cannot be ignored. “We” means all of us with a Twitter account, Facebook, email or a computer. We can each do our part to ensure that the truth about the elections prevais, by spreading the word on social media, and in the comments section of articles that reflect the official version more than reality.

This is not to say that voting did not go well in many places, or that many electoral officials worked hard and courageously under difficult circumstances to make it work. But it cannot be ignored that there were highly significant problems that raise serious doubts about whether the vote was an accurate reflection of the Haitian voters’ choices. It is also true that it is too early to conclude that the elections were a failure. But that determination cannot be made by ignoring the documented problems.

1:45 PM ET
Situation seems to be deteriorating. There are widespread closings of voting centers throughout the country. Additional ones to last update include 3 CVs burned in Savanette, according to CEP member Yolette Mengual, several CVs in the Grande Anse area, several in Mole St. Nicolas.

There has been significant frustration expressed at the police force's limited response (according to many reports, there were police at the Damien center when armed men came to destroy it, the police did not intervene), and at the limited presence of MINUSTAH.

There are a handful of arrest reports, including of  Deputy Candidate in Marigot Frantz Moise, an appointed assistant mayor in Belladere

Street protests are starting to break out in the capitol.

An activist was shot in the mouth in Desdunes

No CVs opened in the Kanraran/Canaan Internally Displaced Persons camp area, where hundreds of thousands of people live.

Despite the increasing reports of violence, closed centers and inability to vote, the Haitian government and the CEP continue to state that the operations are proceeding satisfactorily.  There have been almost no comments from any of the international observation delegations, or other members of the international community.

Summary as of 12:45 PM EST:
Haiti's long-postponed elections started at 6AM today. There have been many serious problems, including closed Voting Centers (CV's), disputes between political party representatives and electoral officials, low turnout and incidents of violence. There are reports of missing electoral material, and that the "indelible" ink designed to prevent repeat voting washes off with water.

In-Depth Updates

Voting Centers Closed

In Port-au-Prince, CVs at the College Isidore-Boisrond and the École Nationale Argentine were forced to close after being ransacked by individuals. At others, the openings were delayed by several hours because of inadequate preparation ir disputes between political party reporesetnatives and election officials.

By 11, the Argentine Bellegarde Center was re-opened (the was the site of a 1987 election massacre).​
Other reported closings in Port-au-Prince include: Ecole Nationale Colombie in Christ-Roi, Horace Ethier CV, Jean Cauvin School . Lycee Georges et Antoine Izmery CV and Rue Frere CVs were over an hour late.​ Building 2004 (Delmas 2) 2 hours late.

At noon, we heard reports that 3 CVs in Cite Soleil- Don Bosco, Centre Damien and Village Repatries were destroyed.
Courtesy of @MelindaMiles

Outside Port-au-Prince: Jeremie: Nord Lexis CV

Ouanaminthe had many of the 
same problems as Port-au-Prince: delays in opening voting centres, clashes between political party observers and election officials over access to polling stations, and low voter participation.

In Petit-Goave, on-the-ground reports indicated
voting was going smoothlyas of 8am. The night before, however, shots were fired and two people reported injured. Police carried out arrests earlier this morning, according to Haiti Press Networks.

In Les Cayes, the situation was calm and voting centres were open, but few voters came out to cast their ballots.

In Arcahaie, shots were fired and a voting bureau looted, leading to the closure of the closure of the voting bureau, 
Haiti Press Networks reports.

Problems with Electoral Party Representatives 
A fundamental safeguard in Haitian voting is the presence of political party representatives at each Voting Center. The theory is that having people verfiying the operations from several perspectives will reduce fraud or irregularities benefitting any candidate or party. Applying this principle is complicated in this election, where there are 131 political parties. It appears that the CEP addressed this problem very late in the process. ​ On Saturday the CEP capped the representatives at 5 per CV. That is not unreasonable, but it then becomes a challenge to allocate those five spots fairly.
Many of the political parties have complained that their representatives, or mandataires, did not have adequate access. Many accuse certain parties of having an unfair preferential access, including parties connected to President Martelly (by some accounts, up to 1/2 of the registered parties are connected to the President).​​   ​Our observers asked some mandataires what party they represent, they were unable or unwilling to identify the party.

Journalist Accreditation was also very slow, with many reporting waiting over 12 hours on Saturday for their accreditation.

There were reproted problems involving conflicts with mandataires at Ti Plas Cazeau, Stade Sylvio Cator, Institute Franciscan (Christ-Roi).


UPDATE: 5:02 p.m. From Melinda Miles: Election workers counting votes at Place Ti Cazeau. Despite late start, polls closed on time there at 4 p.m.

UPDATE: 4 p.m. Scheduled close of polls, though some places might have stayed open later.

UPDATE: 3:15 p.m. Tires burning on Route National 2 in Gressier and Carrefour, where voting centers shut down.

UPDATE: 2:53 p.m. From Jacqueline Charles: police say 26 voting centers temporarily closed, but could reopen.

UPDATE: 2:45 p.m. From Jacqueline Charles: voting cancelled in Jeremie due to "disruptions."

UPDATE: 1:26 p.m. From Etant Dupain: CEP president says everything going "as planned."

UPDATE: 12:38 p.m. From Melinda Miles: Voting centers in Damian destroyed.

UPDATE: 12:26: From Etant Dupain: President Martelly votes in Petitonville

UPDATE: 12:11 p.m. From Amber Lynn Munger: voting center in Verettes in the Artibonite closed due to violence.

UPDATE: 11:30 am
According to our delegates, the incident at the Ecole Nationale de Colombie voting centre is escalating quickly. The voting centre was closed earlier this morning following violent tensions and stone throwing. It is now reported that the police are threatening to fire weapons.

UPDATE: 11:09
Robenson Geffrad reports: the voting centre in Nord Alexis, Jérémie is now closed following unrest and stone throwing. 

UPDATE: 11 am
OAS Press Conference scheduled for 11 am is now cancelled.

UPDATE: 10:20 am
Voting Center at the institution des Frères Unis de Delmas (Delmas 75, Port-au-Prince) still closed. Over four hours since the official opening of the polls.

UPDATE: 8:30 a.m. From Peter Granitz: Election workers leave after violence at Argentine Bellegarde voting center. 

UPDATE: 8:15 am
Growing tensions at Petite Place Cazeau, as Melinda Miles observes.
Courtesy of @MelindaMiles

UPDATE: 8:13 am
There are reports of growing tensions in Cité-Soleil where the voting continues under heavy police presence  Security officers from the US Embassy are elso deployed on the ground.

UPDATE: 07:59 am
Following unrest and the devastation of the voting center at Collège Isidor boisrond (rue Lamarre, Port-au-Prince), Haiti National Police decided to officially close the voting centre.

6 am:  Voting officially opens but many of the voting centers across the country remain closed.
Courtesy of @JakeJohnston


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