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5485: Laleau on Parallel Haitian & US Electoral Issues (fwd)

From: NLaleau@aol.com

There are amazingly strong parallels between the Haitian and US electoral 
issues -- on the point of voter disenfranchisement, the operation of elites, 
the role of the courts & constitution, electoral technicalities and the will 
of the majority, whether or not technicalities match the will of the people 
or should be made to match the will of the people, etc., etc. Plain old 
honesty, for another thing...  

Kathy Dorce (LAKAT47) posted me USC Professor Erwin Chemerinsky's article in 
today's LA Times (11/12) titled "Palm Beach County Must Vote Again." The 
author puts forth a pragmatic solution -- just the voters who already voted 
on the badly formatted ballots should re-vote on an "improved" ballot. I 
think the comparable solution can and should be applied to the contested 
electoral positions in Haiti's spring elections. If it's sauce for Goose, why 
not make it sauce for the Gander??? 

For me, there are two parallel and overlapping issues in both elections: (1) 
How to make the electoral mechanisms honestly reflect the will of the people, 
and (2) How to make each vote count in a democracy -- in Haiti's case, even 
though runoffs would probably have the same overall result, the candidates 
and their supporters who did not get a runoff were cheated out of their vote 
-- they were entitled to the constitutionally specified electoral procedure 
(or a legal CHANGE in the procedure before the election). The same thing is 
true in the current US election -- the majority of people may be losing votes 
whether by badly formatted ballots ballots or by an antiquated Electoral 
College process. 

We can't change the Electoral College business "after the fact" of the 
election any more than Haiti should have just "not bothered" with doing the 
run-off elections in the case of percentages lower than 51% of votes cast. 

In the US, the "miscounted/misformatted ballots" could easily determine the 
future history of the nation and the world because of the political bent of 
the president-elect. In Haiti, the specific politics of the elected 
candidates (for the senate etc.) might not determine Haiti's future, but 
deviation from constitutionally prescribed electoral method regarding runoffs 
could definitely affect how important the rule of law as opposed to the rule 
of one man (however benign) will be in Haiti's future. 

If the electoral structures need to be changed (electoral college in the US, 
percentage counts/runoffs in Haiti) then they need to be changed -- but by 
due process, and not in the middle of the election!

If democracy is supposed to mean the rule by the majority of people, then do 
it. In Haiti Aristide and Fanmi Lavalas is clearly the will of the majority. 
In the US I am not sure if it's Bush or Gore. Unfortunately it's possible 
that the U.S. majority could vote for a Bush, as much as I hate to say it -- 
they've done it before, in their narrow perception of their own good.

Nancy Laleau