Finding Only 9% of Votes Valid: Haiti Verification Commission Says Presidential Election Should be Scrapped

by Kim Ives (Haiti Liberte)
The moment of
truth had arrived. At least, some of the truth.
            On the evening of May 30, Haiti’s
Independent Commission of Electoral Evaluation and Verification (CIEVE)
released its long-awaited report on the controversial Washington-supported
elections of Aug. 9 and Oct. 25, 2015.
            The bombshell report found that “the
electoral process was marred by serious irregularities, grave inconsistencies,
and massive fraud.” Only 9% of the votes in its sampling were found to be
            The five-member CIEVE, which
reviewed 3,235 voter tallies (procès
) or 25% of the 12,939 total, recommended that October’s presidential
first-round “restart from zero.”
            “The number of untraceable votes
[also called zombie votes] exceeded the legitimate votes acquired by
politicians,” said CIEVE president François Benoit. As another CIEVE employee
summed it up: “More dead people voted than living.”
            The problems were not the result of
incompetence, the CIEVE determined. “Many acts committed in violation of the
law or regulations (including the electoral decree) were systematic
(well-organized), and there was intent to deceive (fraud),” the report says.
“It is directly related to the electoral machine itself. The CEP [of Opont
Pierre-Louis] had sometimes violated its own standards that were not
necessarily consistent with the Constitution and the principles of democratic
            The CIEVE also reviewed legislative
races, which were equally plagued by fraud and violence. However, it did not
recommend annulling those elections, as it did the presidential. It instead
proposed that wronged candidates return to the National Electoral Complaints
and Challenges Bureau (BCEN), which most had already tried and charge is a
kangaroo court. It is run by the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP), which
organizes the election.
            Herein lies the supreme irony. As a
result of electoral fraud and violence (and consequent voter abstention), most
of the Parliament is composed of senators and deputies allied to former
President Michel Martelly, who, at the very least, oversaw the disastrous 2015
elections. Martelly’s Haitian Bald Headed Party (PHTK) has scoffed at the CIEVE
and dismissed its findings, arguing that it’s just a maneuver for Provisional
President Jocelerme Privert to remain in power. Therefore, the Martelly-leaning
Parliament, which Privert was reluctant to call “contested” in an interview with Haïti Liberté last month, may well vote him out of office when his
120-day mandate ends on Jun. 14 precisely because of the CIEVE’s findings,
which Privert endorses.
            Furthermore, the CIEVE’s findings
are just a recommendation for the new CEP, which is headed by long-time
Washington ally Léopold Berlanger. The new CEP may find some way to brush aside
the CIEVE’s recommendations. However, that would surely ignite Haiti’s streets.
            Washington has made known its
displeasure with the CIEVE and any delay in rushing to a run-off between the
PHTK’s presidential candidate Jovenel Moïse, who supposedly placed first with
33% of the vote, and Jude Célestin of the Alternative League for Progress and
Haitian Emancipation (LAPEH), who supposedly placed second with 25%.
            Asked in a May 31 briefing if
Washington’s position had changed since the Verification Commission’s report,
State Department spokesman John Kirby eschewed any opinion on the CIEVE’s
findings and instead threatened the beleaguered nation, battered by rain,
flooding, cholera, and famine.
            “Although this is a Haitian-led
process, the longer it takes for Haiti to have a democratically elected
president, the longer it’s going to take for the United States to consider new
elements of partnership in helping Haiti confront the mounting economic,
climate, and health challenges that they continue to face today,” Kirby said.
            Washington provided $33 million for
the 2015 elections, which cost about $100 million, according to former Prime
Minister Evans Paul.
            Meanwhile, pro-Martelly
paramilitaries continue to sow terror by killing policemen around the country.
After a deadly attack on police headquarters in the southern
city of Aux Cayes two weeks ago, paramilitary gunmen cut down off-duty
policeman Loubens Desrameaux on the capital’s Champ de Mars on May 27.
            Below is the Haiti Election Blog’s
English translation (and annotation) of the “Executive Summary” of the CIEVE’s
105-page report in French:
The expected
number of completed dossiers (3,235) versus those found at the Tabulation
Center (294) demonstrates the weakness of the chain of documentary supervision,
of which the mission is to protect the chronological documentation or every
documentary trace related to the reception, retention, control, transfer,
analysis and storage of the physical or electronic evidence.
            The proportion of untraceable votes
(29%) among the total number of valid votes (1,560,631) means that polling
stations allowed 448,000 citizens to vote without filling out a procès-verbal de carence*, as stipulated
in the electoral decree. The second critical element is the proportion of
correct National Identification Card (CIN) numbers compared to the signatures
or fingerprints. The percentage of fake CIN numbers found is 16.2%. For the
1,112,600 traceable votes (valid votes reported on the tally sheets minus the
number of CINs written in by hand) 180,250 were fake CIN, making a total of
628,000 untraceable votes.
            The number of untraceable votes
(628,000 votes, or 40% of valid votes) is higher than the number of votes
received by the first-place candidate according to the results of the CEP,
higher than the total number of votes received by the second- and third-place
candidates, and higher than the difference between the first- and fifth-place
candidates. Moreover, by applying certain criteria defined by the Commission
based on article 171.1 of the electoral decree**, the situation is even more
grave, since the percentage of valid votes falls to 9% of total votes.
            In conformity with the mandate of
the Commission, which consists, principally, of correcting the process in order
to re-establish the trust of the political actors, it recommends the rerunning
of the process, while taking the steps necessary to guarantee the right to vote
of citizens and those of candidates (the right to be elected).
* A separate
list for political party representatives and national observers who cast votes
at polling stations other than where they are registered to vote, as called for
in articles 156 and 222.1 of the electoral decree.

** The list of
criteria for determining whether a tally sheet from a polling station can be
included in the total.