Thursday, April 18, 2024

Lack of material mars voting


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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Lack of critical voting material led to delays in some polling centres during today’s run-off election for the presidency and national assembly.
“There are some delays, which is almost normal and they have some technical problems. In some places they don’t have ballot boxes or ballots or the CEP (Provisional Electoral Council) representatives are not in place,” United Nations Stabilsation Mission (MINUSTAH) Head Edmond Mulet told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) while on a tour of polling stations.
However, he would not be drawn into discussing how the problems might affect the poll.
Only one of the four polling centres visited had actually opened at the prescribed time of 6:00am while others were unable to start some two hours later.
Benoit Charette, a Candadian MP with the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie was among the hundreds of observers. He expressed concern that many of the documents needed for the voting process had failed to reach all the polling stations in time.
“Last time, I began my day with these two centres (in Petionville). It was quite problematic…also it’s the same thing this morning but it’s worse this morning because last time they had all their material, they only began late. But this time they will begin late but they don’t have the material to begin.”
Scores of voters and onlookers surrounded the Lycee School in Petionville as voting failed to start some two hours after the scheduled time. When officials arrived with the needed material, residents surrounded the vehicle and voiced their displeasure. It was at that point that a section of the group broke out with a loud “moo” – a nod of support toward Presidential candidate Michel Martelly, whose ballot symbol is the bull.
Sunday’s runoff comes nearly four months after a first round that was plagued with problems. Since then CEP, after recommendations were made by the Joint Organisation of American States (OAS)/CARICOM Observation Mission, made several changes designed to correct problems experienced in the previous poll.
In addition to restructuring the tabulation procedures, the CEP also made strides in rectifying irregularities with the voters list by comparing its database with that of the office responsible for issuing national identity cards.
“They found that there were 15,000 names that were in the ID office that were not in the database of the electoral council. They did a bit more work and they realised that 5000 of the 15,000 names were basically names that (were) double so that they were removed,” OAS/CARICOM Joint Observation Head Ambassador Colin Granderson said ahead of the poll.
“We remain slightly skeptical in view of the fact that it’s surprising that as many as 15,000 names would have suddenly disappeared and were found at the last moment,” the Caribbean diplomat said.
In an effort to improve the electoral process the CEP has fired nearly 250 polling agents and supervisors who were linked to some of the widespread irregularities on the November 28 poll. It has also improved on its training of agents and upped the minimum standards of education and other competencies for Election Day workers.
The council has also embarked on a massive campaign to sensitize the population on the registration and voting process. It included text and a hotline campaign that yielded more than one million enquires
The presidency is not the only political office at stake. There are still 76 out of 99 departmental seats or “Dipites” and seven out of 11 senators to be determined in Sunday’s poll. More than four million people are registered to vote throughout the 11,182 voting centres around the country. (CMC)


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