By Bobb Rousseau

Haitians voting
Haitians voting in the 2006 elections. File photo

The problem is not to refuse to participate in elections that a government organizes; instead, it is to reform this electoral system that gives the executive branch unlimited and unchecked power over the electoral council and its outlying local and regional offices.

Haitian elections, at whatever level, are funded monetarily, immovably, intellectually, and logistically by the governments in place. They have no integrity as most people contest them and they generate political instabilities. Such problems happen because of the electoral system’s centralization that allows only one institution to organize elections for the whole country.

The formation of departmental and communal electoral offices facilitates the central government’s control over the electoral rolls. It allows it to control candidates, political activists, bridgeheads and voters, electoral inspectors, representatives, and polling stations on election day.

The members of these structures are generally employees, supporters or fanatics of the government. Their allegiance is to the government, not to the constituents they should represent. They have no real power over the decision, administration, and final tabulation of the votes. Their function is summed up to receiving applications from local candidates to forward them to the CEP. With the new identification cards, they have little to no access to Haitian voter registration data eligible to vote for their operation area.

To a large extent, the attachment of BEDs and BECs to the CEP and the latter to the Executive undermines communities’ ability to offer their residents the opportunity to have their voice tabulated for transparent elections. Now, voters do not guarantee that their votes will reach the tabulation center or that their local election organizing agencies will not facilitate voter fraud or result manipulation. 

The integrity of our elections will be preserved when each electoral circumscription begins to organize its elections to renew its boards of directors, its municipal, departmental, and interdepartmental assemblies, its municipal councils, and its parliamentarians so that the executive branch no longer appoints interim mayors at the communal level and to avoid voids in parliament. They will be even more honest when the departments manage to organize stand-alone presidential elections without the CEP’s intervention as the central supervisory or oversight body.

The more power a government has, the more control it holds over the electoral system. I recommend that the members of this structure and those of the so-called decentralized structures be appointed by civil society or at least elected to remain accountable and responsive to the people.

The pendulum is moving in favor of a decentralized administration and governance through which local structures will be responsible for enacting their voting legislation and electoral calendar with the view to organizing elections for their respective electoral circumscriptions without government implication. 

The bottom line up front is to remove the organization’s monopoly of the executive branch’s elections to entrust them to the electoral districts to achieve credible and transparent scrutiny. 

Bobb Rousseau PHD Haitian commentator

Bobb Rousseau holds a Ph.D. in Administration and Public Policy with specializations in Public Law and Managing Local Government. Dr. Rousseau firmly believes that the Haitian diaspora in the United States is at a prime stage to build an attractive political force that can shift U.S. immigration, diplomacy, and humanitarian aid to Haiti and to advance the Haitian agenda around the world.

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