PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (sentinel.ht) – It was late Monday night, 2AM Tuesday, that the three parties disputing the November 20, 2016 preliminary election results were granted an injunction by an electoral tribunal compelling the Vote Tabulation Center (CTV) to provide access for an audit of a random sample of 12% of election tally sheets, called pwosevebals. In the case that massive fraud is found in the vote, it would likely lead to the disqualification of the Parti Haitien Tet Kale (PHTK) candidate, Jovenel Moise, who was declared winner of the presidency with 55%.
The five-judge tribunal of Councilors Jean-Simon Saint-Hubert and Josette Dorcelly as well as lawyers Jacky Pierre, Agnes Joazeus and Joseph Briel Latice, came to the decision early Tuesday morning after hearing the cases of all three attorneys of the three disputing candidates, Jude Celestin, former Senator Jean-Charles Moise and Maryse Narcisse. According to the order issued by the court at the National Bureau of Electoral Disputes (BCEN), the parties will be able to randomly select 1,930 pwosevebals and authenticate against the Electoral Decree.
The last time Haiti audited the pwosevebals of an election was in April 2016. That review found that 92% of the tally sheets included fraud and irregularities as to conclude a massive electoral fraud operation had taken place in the October 25, 2015 elections. An investigation to determine the responsibility for the fraud was never held. For this reason, those elections were scrapped which led to the do-over election on November 20, 2016.
In the case that massive fraud were to be found in the 2016 elections, it is highly unlikely, given the critical need for the completion of the electoral process, that a do-over would be the solution. Attorneys for the plaintiffs say they will demand the disqualification of the guilty party, the candidate who benefited, which would be Jovenel Moise who was declared presumptive President-elect of Haiti with 55% of the vote in a field of 27 candidates.
If the audit were to take Moise’s share of the vote below 50% and not reveal massive fraud, he would have to enter into a runoff election with the second place finisher, in this case it appears, barring any change in placements, would be Jude Celestin. If Jovenel Moise is found to have truly gained above 50% of the vote, according to the counsel representing Jude Celestin, Attorney Andre Michel, the PHTK would receive the most humble of “congratulations”.