Elections in Haiti, 3 years late


Haitians renewed their Parliament last August 9th (Photo: almomento.net)

Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas, will hold elections next August 9 -3 years after they were supposed to occur- to renew 138 Parliament posts (20 senators and 118 deputies) amid a deep political crisis that has already forced former Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe to resign. This delay has exacerbated the overall instability by causing major social frictions and further complicating an already compromised economic situation.

To help solve the current situation, various countries and multilateral bodies are injecting resources and lending technical support—as they have been doing since 2010, when a major earthquake devastated the country—. However, days away from the event, the aid seems insufficient.

In 2011, when the last election took place, Haitians had to wait for weeks to find out results. Although several countries had helped by providing financial support, the international community paid little effort to ensure the election was properly managed. Four years later, the situation remains more or less the same.

For example, while the Organization of American States (OAS) announced that it would send an observation mission, countries like Brazil, Canada, Norway, and the US approved funding a significant portion of the election costs ($70 million). Only Venezuela manifested that it would provide resources to streamline Haiti’s National Electoral Roll.

Given Haiti’s current situation, any form of aid is indeed necessary. Yet, there are pending technical issues that could compromise the success of the election which need to be resolved. The Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) has explained that the parliamentary elections will be “the largest voting exercise in the history of the country,” as they imply enabling nearly 13,500 constituencies, 1,600 polling places, and printing 60 million ballots. Both the election and tally will be 100% manual. Besides, it will require the participation of more than 41,000 temporary workers to cover all the stages.

With this election, Haiti fulfills one of its pending appointments. The next task in its to-do list is the modernization of its electoral system. Perhaps by automating voting, efficiency and transparency will improve, and the nation will be likely to reduce its current outrageous cost of $14 per voter (there are currently around 5 million registered voters in the country).