Fights, ballot-box stuffing mar election as Haitians pick Parliament members
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Haitians elected legislators to Parliament on Sunday, but the vote was plagued with delays, disorder, and occasional fistfights and rock throwing.
The legislative election, which had been postponed for nearly four years due to a political showdown between Haiti’s executive and opposition, had been billed as a crucial test of the country’s electoral system ahead of a presidential vote in October.
Sunday’s first round seeks to fill two thirds of the 30-member Senate and the entire 99-member Chamber of Deputies.
Final results were not expected for several days and a significant amount of work will be needed to get the next Parliament up and running after it is installed.
The first round of Haiti’s presidential election and the second round of local elections are set for Oct. 25.
A number of polling stations across the country of 10 million people had to wait for ballots hours after voting was supposed to start at 6 a.m. In sections of Port-au-Prince, voters grew exasperated after being told they couldn’t cast ballots because their names weren’t on official voting lists.
‘‘This is very frustrating. Are they trying to discourage voting?’’ said Gerald Henry, a gardener, after election workers turned him away.
In the crowded capital, at least three voting centers were shut down by authorities after fistfights broke out as partisans attempted to stuff ballot boxes and engage in other irregularities.
At one voting center in downtown Port-au-Prince, groups of young men ripped up paper ballots as heavily armed police shot into the air to reestablish order. Rocks were thrown in response before authorities closed the polling station.
Local news media also reported the closure of polling places in other sections of the country and scattered arrests of people accused of voting more than once.