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#3724: This Week in Haiti 18:9 5/17/2000 : Laleau comments
"Chez Eva Mercer" is probably a totally adequate address in a rural village.
Streets aren't always named, but Eva Mercer is probably a well-known person.
The BV in rural villages is often in a school, if there is one, or in a
private house, especially if there's nothing larger. I've seen BVs located in
any number of private homes -- usually homes with two rooms -- and I've seen
BVs located in public buildings that didn't even have room enough for 10
people to occupy the room along with the tables for the BV staff and one or
two cardboard voting cubicles. Anyone who has observed elections in Haiti, or
even traveled in rural Haiti, can attest to this. So the "Chez Eva Mercer"
issue is a non-issue to anyone who is familiar with rural Haiti. On the other
hand, the number of BVs and their location relative to the location where
people were inscribed is a REAL issue... as is the question of voting lists
not being adequately prepared and posted, and the possibility that people
don't know where to go to vote. In the June 1995 election barefooted elderly
and infirm people walked for miles from one BV to another, trying to find a
place where their names were inscribed. They stood in the hot sun, crowded
around handwritten lists posted on the doors of the voting site, asking
people who could read, to locate their names on the lists (about 80% appeared
to be illiterate). The crowding, the head, and the frustration were horrible.
At some BVs there were truckloads of people who drove buy demanding to vote,
as they had been turned away from where they thought they should vote because
their names were not on the list... sometimes violence ensued from sheer
misunderstandings -- people thought it was a complot to prevent their voting,
when it was most probably just malfunctioning of an inadequate
infrastructure. I am sure this will happen again... it makes me sick.