by Kim Ives (Haiti Liberte)
The moment of truth had arrived. At least, some of the truth.
On the evening of May 30, Haiti’s Independent Commission of Electoral Evaluation and Verification (CIEVE) released its long-awaited report on the controversial Washington-supported elections of Aug. 9 and Oct. 25, 2015.
The bombshell report found that “the electoral process was marred by serious irregularities, grave inconsistencies, and massive fraud.” Only 9% of the votes in its sampling were found to be valid.
The five-member CIEVE, which reviewed 3,235 voter tallies (procès verbal) or 25% of the 12,939 total, recommended that October’s presidential first-round “restart from zero.”
“The number of untraceable votes [also called zombie votes] exceeded the legitimate votes acquired by politicians,” said CIEVE president François Benoit. As another CIEVE employee summed it up: “More dead people voted than living.”
The problems were not the result of incompetence, the CIEVE determined. “Many acts committed in violation of the law or regulations (including the electoral decree) were systematic (well-organized), and there was intent to deceive (fraud),” the report says. “It is directly related to the electoral machine itself. The CEP [of Opont Pierre-Louis] had sometimes violated its own standards that were not necessarily consistent with the Constitution and the principles of democratic governance.”
The CIEVE also reviewed legislative races, which were equally plagued by fraud and violence. However, it did not recommend annulling those elections, as it did the presidential. It instead proposed that wronged candidates return to the National Electoral Complaints and Challenges Bureau (BCEN), which most had already tried and charge is a kangaroo court. It is run by the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP), which organizes the election.
Herein lies the supreme irony. As a result of electoral fraud and violence (and consequent voter abstention), most of the Parliament is composed of senators and deputies allied to former President Michel Martelly, who, at the very least, oversaw the disastrous 2015 elections. Martelly’s Haitian Bald Headed Party (PHTK) has scoffed at the CIEVE and dismissed its findings, arguing that it’s just a maneuver for Provisional President Jocelerme Privert to remain in power. Therefore, the Martelly-leaning Parliament, which Privert was reluctant to call “contested” in an interview with Haïti Liberté last month, may well vote him out of office when his 120-day mandate ends on Jun. 14 precisely because of the CIEVE’s findings, which Privert endorses.
Furthermore, the CIEVE’s findings are just a recommendation for the new CEP, which is headed by long-time Washington ally Léopold Berlanger. The new CEP may find some way to brush aside the CIEVE’s recommendations. However, that would surely ignite Haiti’s streets.
Washington has made known its displeasure with the CIEVE and any delay in rushing to a run-off between the PHTK’s presidential candidate Jovenel Moïse, who supposedly placed first with 33% of the vote, and Jude Célestin of the Alternative League for Progress and Haitian Emancipation (LAPEH), who supposedly placed second with 25%.
Asked in a May 31 briefing if Washington’s position had changed since the Verification Commission’s report, State Department spokesman John Kirby eschewed any opinion on the CIEVE’s findings and instead threatened the beleaguered nation, battered by rain, flooding, cholera, and famine.
“Although this is a Haitian-led process, the longer it takes for Haiti to have a democratically elected president, the longer it’s going to take for the United States to consider new elements of partnership in helping Haiti confront the mounting economic, climate, and health challenges that they continue to face today,” Kirby said.
Washington provided $33 million for the 2015 elections, which cost about $100 million, according to former Prime Minister Evans Paul.
Meanwhile, pro-Martelly paramilitaries continue to sow terror by killing policemen around the country. After a deadly attack on police headquarters in the southern city of Aux Cayes two weeks ago, paramilitary gunmen cut down off-duty policeman Loubens Desrameaux on the capital’s Champ de Mars on May 27.
Below is the Haiti Election Blog’s English translation (and annotation) of the “Executive Summary” of the CIEVE’s 105-page report in French:
The expected number of completed dossiers (3,235) versus those found at the Tabulation Center (294) demonstrates the weakness of the chain of documentary supervision, of which the mission is to protect the chronological documentation or every documentary trace related to the reception, retention, control, transfer, analysis and storage of the physical or electronic evidence.
The proportion of untraceable votes (29%) among the total number of valid votes (1,560,631) means that polling stations allowed 448,000 citizens to vote without filling out a procès-verbal de carence*, as stipulated in the electoral decree. The second critical element is the proportion of correct National Identification Card (CIN) numbers compared to the signatures or fingerprints. The percentage of fake CIN numbers found is 16.2%. For the 1,112,600 traceable votes (valid votes reported on the tally sheets minus the number of CINs written in by hand) 180,250 were fake CIN, making a total of 628,000 untraceable votes.
The number of untraceable votes (628,000 votes, or 40% of valid votes) is higher than the number of votes received by the first-place candidate according to the results of the CEP, higher than the total number of votes received by the second- and third-place candidates, and higher than the difference between the first- and fifth-place candidates. Moreover, by applying certain criteria defined by the Commission based on article 171.1 of the electoral decree**, the situation is even more grave, since the percentage of valid votes falls to 9% of total votes.
In conformity with the mandate of the Commission, which consists, principally, of correcting the process in order to re-establish the trust of the political actors, it recommends the rerunning of the process, while taking the steps necessary to guarantee the right to vote of citizens and those of candidates (the right to be elected).
* A separate list for political party representatives and national observers who cast votes at polling stations other than where they are registered to vote, as called for in articles 156 and 222.1 of the electoral decree.
** The list of criteria for determining whether a tally sheet from a polling station can be included in the total.