We anticipate the finding of the European Union’s electoral mission in Haiti by nine days

Just as in 2010, when the Fifth Electoral Mission anticipated the findings of the Verification Mission by five weeks, the Eighth Mission has now beat another official mission to the punch. On December 10, 2015, we published our report, “The Scandal That Wasn’t” based on our observer reports. This was the first report to puncture the myth of seventy-eight polling returns alleged to be a random sample and fraudulent. The word had spread around Haiti like wildfire: If all seventy-eight of a sample were bad, what did that say about the rest of them?

The second largest lot of the seventy-two returns came from a voting center in Hinche where we had deployed an observer all day. She submitted a detailed, twenty-page report that found all to have been in good order. We found four more qualified witnesses in this voting center who have submitted two more detailed observer reports, for a total of sixty pages of examination of the opening, voting process, closing, and count. All were agreed that no one was allowed to vote more than once and there were no interruptions or disorder. The hand tallies taken on the spot match the results published by the electoral commission.

On December 19, 2015 the European Union’s mission published its “Analyse des 78 PV vérifiés par le Bureau du Contentieux Electoral National.”

The EU mission used a completely different methodology, that of closely analyzing the polling returns received at the Tabulation Center and finding the errors in them to be minor. The methodology employed is riskier because it assumes that the polling returns received at the Tabulation Center are the genuine article, but they were this time and the report is a model of painstaking inquiry. We continue to believe that the surer way is independent data from the polling places recorded by our own mission. We were fortunate in this case to have had an accredited observer on the spot to provide this independent witness.

As for the initial claim that these seventy-eight were a random sample, the electoral commission corrected the challenge committee in making clear that these were in no way a random sample but were a lot selected by the challenging parties, so that wider conclusions could not be drawn from them.

A failure of the European report, given that it was compiled in the very midst of the electoral commission’s facilities, is to explain why the challenge committee and the commission changed or rejected all seventy-eight of the returns when there was no real evidence of fraud. The Eighth Mission tackled this question, however. We queried our most experienced observer, himself a former supervisor of a voting center. He responded, “Moi je pense c’était tout simplement pour apaiser les tensions politiques. En réalité les résultats sont restés les mêmes.” In short, not a technical decision. In the words of our report, “Since the election commission did not give any reason either, we suspect it was related to political pressures in Port-au-Prince.”

About the electoral missions of NOAH and the Haiti Democracy Project

The seventh and eighth missions, deploying on August 9 and October 25, 2015, altogether sent 180 observers into four provinces. Most went on August 9. The major missions in the country were the OAS and European Union missions and a combined mission of leading Haitian organizations such as RNDDH and COHANE. The Western missions were supported by their respective governments and didn’t stray far from their governments’ line. The usually more independent Haitian organizations this time got swept up into the politics of the day and issued reports whose sweeping conclusions went well beyond the evidence presented in the body of their reports. This evidence was mostly anecdotal and begged the question of prevalence.

This leaves the NOAH–Haiti Democracy mission as one of the largest still retaining its neutrality. The mission has not hesitated to call the electoral commission to account when it eliminated viable peaceful candidates who would have won and qualified violent criminals as candidates, contrary to the electoral law. We protested the U.S. government action to bar the nomination of Haiti’s most distinguished and neutral election administrator in favor of someone who had cheated in the 2010 election. Ours was the only mission to raise either of these questions. The huge liability in saddling the electoral commission with this compromised figure has become evident as powerful candidates exploit the general lack of confidence in the commission in an effort to overturn results not to their liking.

The preselection of the candidates and the degradation of the candidate list was the stuff of Haitian politics. When the voting began, however, the expensive electoral machine paid for by the international community kicked into action. On August 9 the bulk of our observers reported relatively good conditions in most regions. Our observers on October 25 found conditions further improved. The reportage of our electoral missions flows completely from the witness of our observers.