[Documents menu] Documents menu

Update on the elections

International Liaison Office of President Aristide, Update
21 June 1995

In a few days, Haitians go to the polls to elect parliamentary representatives and local officials. While the process has been fraught with administrative challenges, the framework for free and fair elections has been put in place. The elections are scheduled for June 25 and the runoffs for July 23. The process has been notable for the very high level of participation from candidates and parties across the political spectrum, as well as for the high level of voter registration. Through these elections, Haitians will take another step towards the consolidation of democracy and increase their capacity to influence all levels of Haitian government.

Nearly 4,000,000 voters (over 90% of the voting population) have registered to elect all 83 Deputies, 18 out of 27 Senators, 133 municipal councils, and 564 members of district councils (CASEC's). This will be only the second time in Haitian history that people have had the opportunity to democratically choose their parliamentary and local representatives. According to the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP), there are approximately 4092 candidates from about 30 political parties participating.

The applications for candidacy were reviewed by the CEP according to the Electoral Law: about 143 of the 177 senatorial applicants were accepted to run; 716 of the 859 deputy candidates; 756 of the 885 candidates for mayor offices; and 2477 of the 2688 for CASEC's. Most of the disqualifications were related to failure to submit the documents required under the law. According to article 291 of the Constitution, the architects of the Duvalier dictatorship cannot run for elected office until 1997 (ten years after the writing of the Constitution). Some candidates were disqualified on the basis of being members of paramilitary organizations. One candidate was disqualified because he currently faces criminal charges of murder.

According to the Organization of American States, invited by the Haitian government to assist in observing the elections, the disqualification did not seem to follow any ideological pattern. There are as many from one ideological tendency as another being rejected, and no one group seems to have benefited, said the OAS Electoral Observation Mission deputy chief, Micheline Begin (New York Times, June 12, 1995).

CEP President Anselme Remy had previously announced that some 1,000,000 voter registration cards were stolen, but it now appears that the cards may simply have been misplaced. Additional registration cards were ordered, and excess cards will be used for a supplemental registration period prior to the Presidential elections in December.

In order to facilitate the greatest possible participation in the elections, the CEP extended the registration period and has increased its voting sites from 9,000 to over 10,000. There are also 55,000 people recruited to work at the polling sites on election day.

Among the measures being taken to ensure fair elections and prevent fraud:

Other international organizations involved with the elections are: the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) which is printing the ballots, providing training on administrative procedures, voter education, and party pollwatcher training; the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) which has been training some political parties in fundraising, media relations, membership building, poll watching, and civic education campaigns; the International Republican Institute (IRI) which will have a delegation of observers; the American Institute for Free Labor Development (AIFLD) which is organizing get-out-the-vote campaigns; the Parliamentary Human Rights Foundation (PHRF) and the Center for Democracy (CFD) which are involved in post-electoral training for the new parliament.

The ballots are being printed in California by Sequoia Pacific Systems, which received the bid over a Haitian printing firm. The ballots will be flown to Miami and then to Haiti. Two members of the CEP are in California following the printing process.