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