Haitians voting on Sunday
PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti -- The electoral observation mission of the Organization of American States (OAS/EOM) to Sunday's elections in Haiti highlighted improvements over recent elections in the process on Election Day, as part of the preliminary report presented by the mission on Monday.
Meanwhile, after observing over 300 polling stations during Haiti’s presidential and legislative elections on Sunday, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) election observer mission (CEOM) has declared general satisfaction with the conduct of the poll in the French-speaking CARICOM member state.
Despite the difficulties posed by the damage from Hurricane Matthew, the OAS mission, headed by former Uruguayan senator Juan Raúl Ferreira, commended the efforts of all national stakeholders that led to an improved electoral process, noting greater national involvement and ownership of the process.
The OAS/EOM fielded a team of 130 experts and observers of 24 nationalities. On Election Day, they observed the electoral process in all ten departments of the country from the opening of the polls through the counting of the ballots, visiting 474 voting centers. The mission is observing the tabulation process and will have continuous presence at the tabulation centre (CTV) until the publication of the preliminary results. In addition, it will observe the contestation phase.
Although voting in Haiti is not mandatory and the law does not provide for a participation threshold, the OAS mission expressed its concern for what appears to have been a low turnout in Sunday´s election and encourages Haitian authorities and political stakeholders to take measures to incentivize political participation.
In its first post-elections statement, the CARICOM mission reported that the officers of Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) “not only displayed an improved competence, but a uniform execution of their duties.”
The 300 polling stations it visited were situated in three districts in and neighbouring the capital city Port-au-Prince, including areas affected by Hurricane Matthew.
Noting the bold step by the CEP to convene the elections so close after Hurricane Matthew had wreaked havoc on the country, the CEOM said in its initial assessments, it was assured the Haitian election management body was well prepared.
“Staff were trained, committed and dedicated to effectively conduct the elections for president and senators.
“The CEOM, with its tested and proven technical officers from six CARICOM Member States, collectively visited and keenly monitored well over 300 polling stations.
“The overall considered opinion is that compared with the 25 October 2015 poll, on this occasion the CEP officers at the Polling Stations not only displayed an improved competence, but a uniform execution of their duties. The team attributed this noticeable amelioration to the training of poll staff conducted by the CEP. With few exceptions the poll staff treated CEOM members with the utmost respect, and demonstrated a genuine willingness to accommodate queries,” the statement said.
The CEOM said it will specify and recommend new improvements in its final report, but noted that many of the lapses observed were “not of any great consequence or of the nature to disturb the electoral results.”
“It is worthy of note that many of the suggestions documented by the CEOM following the elections of 25 October 2015, were incorporated into the CEP’s training programme and were used on E-Day, 20 November 2016.
“The CEOM urges all political parties and their candidates to ensure that their post-electoral behaviour coincides with the law of the land, the tenets associated with electoral processes, and internationally accepted standards and best practice,” the statement noted.