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#3877: Miles responds to Arthur on Norton (fwd)

From: Melinda Miles, Haiti Reborn <mmiles76@yahoo.com>

To post #3860, in response to the question: What is
Mike Norton on?

> "Most election stations were staffed exclusively by
> Aristide
> partisans." 
- what is this outrageous claim based on?

Not on reality. From what I witnessed as part of the
International Coalition of Independent Observers, a
group that observed over 100 voter bureaus, election
stations were staffed by partisans of many parties.
Furthermore, in no location that we visited (including
Carrefour, Petionville, St. Marc, Croix-des-Bouquets,
Turgeau, Canape Vert and Carrefour Feuilles) did the
politics of the poll workers come into play. Poll
workers were working under difficult conditions to
make their bureaus simply operate as best they could.

> "Opposition pollwatchers were expelled from stations
> because
> Haiti's electoral council had only signed the
> identity cards of Aristide
> pollwatchers." 
- is this true, if so where did it happen? The
implication is everywhere - not so.

I would like to reiterate the statement released by
the Coalition, and state that we documented the
presence of political party pollwatchers (mandataires)
at every bureau we visited. At almost 100% of the
bureaus there were mandataires from OPL, Espace de
Concertation, Fanmi Lavalas, Mochrenha, independent
and the National Council of Observers. Other parties
(PLB, APPA, etc) were also represented at most
We did witness several would-be mandataires at the CEP
main office in the days before the elections,
struggling to get the signatures needed for their
cards. But these people were not being excluded based
on their political leanings. It seemed to us as
observers that the CEP was scrambling with many last
minute preparations (including accrediting the US
State Dept delegation) and that CEP staff were doing
all they could to get things done.

> "Vote counters have also had to pore through
> disorganized
> heaps of ballots; many ballots were lost or
> scattered in streets during
> transit to counting centers." 
- as above, where did this happen, how many polling

>From what we observed and learned of before leaving
Haiti, no ballots were scattered in the streets in
front of polling stations. There have been no formal
reports of voter bureaus losing ballots; one of the
communal bureaus in Port-au-Prince received a delivery
of ballots after its employees had left, early Monday
morning, and these are the ballots that are being
shown in photographs and video footage. It is
important to note, once again, that preliminary counts
of the ballots were taken at individual voting
bureaus, and these counts were intact upon arrival at
the communal bureau. Although these counts had to made
under adverse conditions (because many of the voting
bureaus were located in church yards and parking lots)
they were not  disorganized heaps of ballots, but
rather the ballots were individually counted out of
the ballot boxes and returned to those boxes, which
were sealed and transported to the communal bureaus.

> Is Mike Norton a independent journalist reporting
> for the AP in an as 
> impartial way as possible, or is he a mouthpiece for
> the absurd claims of 
> the anti-Lavalas political parties? We should be
> told.

I agree with Mr. Arthur's questions about Mike
Norton's impartiality. It is hard to believe the
claims made by Mr. Norton when some of them are
clearly false, and when others include details without
evidence. I would like to know where Norton learned
that only Aristide supporters were accredited as
pollwatchers, and would be happy to share with him the
documentation of the opposite that I have in hand from
the first-hand observations of the International
Coalition of Independent Observers.

Melinda Miles, Haiti Reborn/Quixote Center

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