Preliminary Observations of the Coalition regarding the organization and the holding of the November 20, 2016 Elections:
On November 20 2016, the presidential and partial legislative elections were held in the national territory.
The Coalition of Electoral Observation composed of the following organizations observed the process leading up to the aforementioned election:
- Solidarity of Haitian Women – SOFA
- Council of National Electoral Observers – CNO
- Council of Non-State Haitian Actors – CONHANE
- National Human Rights Defense Network – RNDDH
- Center for Research and Analysis of Human Rights – CARDH
- Platform of Haitian Human Rights Organizations – POHDH
Before presenting its detailed report regarding the electoral process and election day, the Coalition wishes to share its first observations and impressions to all those interested in the issue.
I. POSITIVE POINTS
A number of positive developments in the electoral process that resulted in the November 20, 2016, elections attracted the attention of the Coalition.
The Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) made great efforts to prepare for the elections on November 20, 2016. Accreditation cards for electoral observation organizations and political parties were available on time. Of very good quality and visible from a far distance, these cards have been distributed to the institutions with all the information printed in advance by the CEP. They also included photos of observers and proxies/political party monitors, and provided precise information about the deployment department, the deployment district, the name and the National Identification Number (CIN) of the person concerned.
For the first time, the CEP technical team took the time to work with the database of the electoral body. For example, information provided by electoral observation organizations on the identity of observers had been thoroughly studied and compared. For example, observers who had also registered with other electoral observation organizations or who had registered as political parties’ agents were excluded.
The use of the CEP database thus allowed the organizations of the Coalition to also purge their own list.
- Regarding the quality of electoral materials
The only similarity to earlier materials were ballot boxes. The other electoral materials made available to the population by the CEP on the day of the vote were different :
- The voting booths were of better quality, ensured voting secrecy and allowed voters to cast their votes in dignity.
- The voters, after voting, were asked to dip their thumbs in small bottle of indelible ink which was of good quality and difficult to remove.
- The ballots had different colors than those used last year.
- Regarding the availability of electoral materials
Generally speaking, electoral materials were available.
In addition, the CEP assured the transporation of electoral materials to voting venters located in remote areas, with the means available. In some areas, people were asked to carry the materials themselves, while in others, the materials were transported by donkey.
In general, delivery of electoral materials were completed.
- Regarding the installation of polling centers
At least 76% of the Polling Centers were installed where they were needed.
- Regarding the security of the vote
At dawn, agents of the Haitian National Police (PNH) were present on the streets. They secured the vote, by increasing vehicle and motorcycle searches in areas considered red zones. In certain area where mega Polling Centers were located, PNH were all over to control voter crowds and approaching vehicles. In other places where there were no walls enclosing the space, string was used to delimit the space of the Polling Centers.
Agents of the PNH ‘s special forces, such as the Motorized Intervention Brigade (BIM), the Intervention Force for the Maintenance of Order (CIMO), the Departmental Unit for the Maintenance of Order (UDMO), the Fire Brigade, the SWAT Team, and administrative agents were noticed inside and outside of the Polling Centers.
This increased presence of PNH allowed for interventions during the day to proceed without serious incident, such as in Milot and Grande Rivière du Nord.
In several of the country’s deparments, agents of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) were noticed.
The Electoral Security Officers (ASE) were present within the Polling Centers.
5. Regarding the members of the polling stations
The electoral personnel, including ASE, the Superivisors of the Polling Centers, and the members of the Polling Station were well trained.
The CEP took into account women’s participation within the Polling Stations. The Coalition estimates that 40% of the members of the Polling Stations were women.
The CEP provided a Reserve Member of the Polling Station who were called upon to replace another member of the station, for whatever reason, if others could not be present on election day.
- Regarding the installation of polling stations
The Coalition has identified the cases of several Polling Centers which for various reasons, were relocated at the last minute. For example :
- In Jérémie, Grand’Anse Department, two (2) Polling Centers Lycée Nord Alexis and the Lycée des Jeunes Filles housing forty-four (44) polling stations, for an electoral population estimated at more than twenty five thousand (25,000) people had to be relocated at the last minute due to the fact that the victims of Hurricane Matthew who had sought refuge did not leave the school. The CEP had decided to relocate these Polling Centers to the Administrative Complex and to Ecole Sainte Thérèse, respectively.
- In Les Cayes, South Department, the Polling Center at Lycée Claudy Museau was relocated to Ecole Communautaire Jean Paul II, for the same reason.
- In Anse-à-Foleur, Northwest Department, the Polling Center located at Ecole Justin Lhérisson, was relocated to Ecole Evangélique Baptiste Béthanie, due to construction
- In Miragoane, Nippes Department, the Polling Center located at Ecole du Sacré Cœur was relocated at the last minute, for the environment of school was inappropriate. It was relocated to Lycée Jacques Prevert.
In each case, many voters chose to return home rather than to go to the relocated Polling Center.