Monday, November 29, 2010

Louisiana Justice Institute Joins Observation of Haiti Elections

Summary of Election Day - 11/28/10 23:14EST
Louisiana Justice Institute Observer Group

Jacmel, Haiti

Despite the calm, peaceful and relatively orderly atmosphere earlier in the day a growing number of voters were confused about where to vote by mid-morning.

Registered voters who had been assigned a polling location at the time they received their identity card, could not vote at their assigned location. Reactions ranged from disappointment to rage. Many searched multiple locations unsuccessfully, seeking their name on any voter list but instead finding many of their deceased neighbors and family members listed.

In one case, a voter found his name on the voter list posted outside of the polling station, but that voter’s name did not appear on the official roll of voters inside the voting station managed by the voting officials. Initially he was denied the right to vote until a non-partisan observer intervened on his behalf. A polling official marked his ballot as provisional.

By early afternoon, conditions began to deteriorate, as voters exchanged stories about their personal experiences and frustrations, trying to cast a ballot.

Eleven months after the earthquake, and in the midst of a deadly cholera epidemic, many voters expressed a strong desire for change and their determination to claim their right as a citizen of Haiti to cast their ballot.

A consensus began to emerge by mid-afternoon that the credibility of the election was seriously challenged.

As news about the developments in Port au Prince reached Jacmel, the situation became unstable. Spontaneous manifestations broke out, beginning in the suburbs of Jacmel and spreading to the city with marches, tires burning in the streets, and an attach on the police headquarters with four burning tires and throwing rocks in the street. People gathered in small, anxious groups at storefronts, on the steps of houses, porches and in the streets.

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