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#2343: Problems with voter registration (fwd)
The Provisional Electoral Council is not and has never been prepared to
register Haiti's estimated 4 million voters. According to the latest rumors
circulating in Haiti, the registrars and corresponding material received from
IFES cannot accommodate more than 1.4 million voters. True or false, what is
undisputed is that despite the enormity of the task - registering 4 million
voters - there were numerous delays in shipping the registration material.
Accordingly the start date was postponed at least twice.
In two separate statements issued the same day, two representatives of the
CEP respectively reported totals of 2.5 million and 1.3 million registered
voters. This wide discrepancy signals clearly the CEP's lack of control over
the process. Two weeks into registrations and polling offices are reporting
shortages in film and other material. Malfunctioning cameras forced the
closing of offices in Mirebalais. There are only 3,500 polling offices, less
than 7 in each of Haiti's 565 communal sections. In some areas people have
to walk up to 10 kilometers to reach the closest site. Popular neighborhoods
like Martissant, in the southern end of Port-au-Prince, do not have polling
Already there have been numerous protests demanding additional polling
offices. For many these conditions are eerily reminiscent of the December
16, 1990 elections where voting ballots were delayed 8 hours in Cite Soleil,
a stronghold of popular support for then candidate Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
The system seems to have been taken off guard by the demand for voter
registration cards. Participation seems to be provoking the stick and not the