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#3730: Haiti: Obstacles May Prevent Popular Participation on Election Day (fwd)

From: radman <resist@best.com>

From: GMN General News list

Serious Obstacles May Prevent Popular Participation on Election Day

Haiti 123 - Five days before elections the Provisional Electoral Council
(CEP)has still not fully published the locations of the purported 11,064
polling stations (BVs) where Haiti's 4 million voters are expected to cast
their ballots this Sunday.

As of May 16th 700 of those sites were not even designated despite the
requirement in the 1999 Electoral Law in its Chapter 10, Article 125 which
requires the CEP publicize the list of all polling stations one week prior to
the day of elections.

Serious irregularities during the registration period prevented countless
people to register in their own neigborhoods.  The OAS, in their May 2000
Report on the Registration Process, stated that "an undetermined number of
voters registered in places other than their residences. It is not clear
whether or not these voters know that they must vote where they register
which could cause confusion on Election Day..."

Anticipating chaos on election day the OAS went on to say that, "The Mission
believes it would be appropriate for the CEP to address this issue through
public announcements leading up to the election."  However, an informal
survey held today of popular radio stations in the capital revealed that no
public service announcements were being aired explaining how to determine
where to vote.

The quick response that voters should go to the sites where they registered
(BIs) is not enough.  Many of the registration offices were not converted
into polling stations (BVs).  Plus, there will be almost 4 times as many BVs
as BIs.

When on Sunday, May 21st, a voter finds that her BI is not a BV, where does
she go to cast her vote?  And if she is directed to another site after how
long of a wait and how far will she have to walk?  (In the past Haiti has
suspended all but emergency and official vehicles from circulating on the day
of elections.  No announcements on this issue has yet been made.)

Several obstacles to an effective electoral process including the claim by
many that they had no access to the registration process, poorly trained
election workers (who were trained at the last minute because of labor
disputes), lack of computerized, centralized or alphabetized voter lists,
anticipated confusion and long distance treks by foot, may serve to create
voter frustration and disenfranchisement.

This week's paid insert in Le Nouvelliste, Haiti's (Port-au-Prince's) daily
newspaper purporting to publicize the voting locations (BVs) are not only
late, they are wholly inadequate.  First, the information is presented as a
chart with no written explanation.  What does the heading "Code BV" mean and
how does it correspond with the codes on the electoral cards?  Second, some
of the BV "addresses" listed are nothing more than "Chez Eva Mercer" which is
merely the name of a family in their private residence with no address listed.

In a country with 85% illiteracy, why isn't this vital information being
blasted clearly and repeatedly - and in Creole - over the radio air waves
where most Haitians get their news?

More frightening is that less than 5 days from elections no one seems
concerned that voters don't know where they have to go to vote.


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