PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (sentinel.ht) – The 2015 elections that were funded most in part by the international community was filled with violence, ballot box stuffing, and disorder. On Sunday, an electoral process paid wholly and solely by the Haitian people proceeded without a hitch according to local observers.
There were no clear signs of meddling by the government as was the case in the 2015 elections. These were the observations of Pierre Esperance, Director of the National Network for the Defense of Human Rights (RNDDH). Esperance runs an organization that has been defending human rights in Haiti and observing the country’s elections for several past cycles. His organization partners with other human rights groups, refugee support and women’s groups to fan 3,000-plus election observers throughout the nation.
Election day passed calm, without violence. It came to pass that at the voting offices we visited, we could not find people to tell us that they were being pressured or coerced in any particular way. We didn’t see any lifting or forcing of ballots at the polling stations. The 2016 elections were different from 2015.
You have an electoral council in 2016 that has shown itself to be independent. It didn’t seem to be in control of any sector, whether the executive, private sector, or a political sector…
The problem we will find is low voter turnout and this blame is on the electoral council, the State, the political parties and candidates themselves.
Voter turnout has been below 20% in Haiti for some time but election observers do believe Sunday’s turnout may be the lowest in recent cycles. Esperance gave an example among police officers working election locations during the vote. They were provided specialized ballots to vote at any election office and of 12,000 who worked Sunday, only 1,892 returned their ballots.