NED Grantees Facilitate Peaceful Elections in Haiti
Following the chaotic presidential election of November 2010, Haiti held runoff elections on March 20, 2011, so voters could choose between Kompa singer Michel Martelly and former first lady Mirlande Manigat. Compared to the first round (which saw its highly contested results revised following the intervention of the Organization of American States), the runoff elections experienced few problems, and March 20 unfolded with few reports of violence and significant logistical improvements. Official results will be announced April 16, but preliminary results are expected March 30.
NED grantees were an important part of these peaceful elections as they worked to facilitate voter education and poll monitoring. Fondation Espoir, and its nationwide youth network Jeune Ayiti, used its SMS and online platform entitled Mwen Konté (“I count”) to monitor the elections. Created originally in response to the January 2010 earthquake, Mwen Konté works to increase citizen input in the reconstruction and electoral processes by reaching out to youth across the country through the user-fed Ushahidi web platform. This platform enabled Fondation Espoir to gather instant information on election day irregularities, instances of fraud and reports of violence and upload this information onto an interactive crowd-source map.
In the pre-electoral period, Mwen Konté was used to conduct surveys on voter preferences and priorities, which helped in tailoring questions to presidential hopefuls during candidate forums. Fondation Espoir fielded 300 observers during the first round and 1,200 during the second round of voting to monitor the quality elections. In the second round, volunteers also observed the ballot counting and reported on election day results at targeted polling stations.
In addition to Fondation Espoir, a number of other NED grantees and partners were involved in the electoral process. The National Democratic Institute (NDI), a NED core institute, facilitated the signing of a code of conduct between the two presidential candidates participating in the runoff election. The Observatoire Citoyen de l’Action des Pouvoirs en Haiti (OCAPH) organized televised debates in the lead-up to the first round of voting. And Jurimedia fielded volunteer observers in the North Department, and monitored the quality of the electoral process.
Through these and many other efforts, NED grantees played an important role in increasing voter participation and Haitian confidence in the elections.