CEPR Examines OAS Report on Haiti's Election, Finds It "Inconclusive, Statistically Flawed, and Indefensible"

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CEPR Examines OAS Report on Haiti's Election, Finds It "Inconclusive, Statistically Flawed, and Indefensible"

WASHINGTON - The Center for Economic and Policy Research
(CEPR) has analyzed the Expert Verification Missions’ Final Report from
the Organization of American States (OAS) on Haiti’s presidential
elections, which has not been released to the public but is now
available on the CEPR website here [PDF]. CEPR’s analysis found that the OAS report cannot help determine the outcome of the first round of Haiti’s election.

“This report can’t salvage an election
that was illegitimate, where nearly three-quarters of the electorate
didn’t vote, and where the vote count of the minority that did vote was
severely compromised,” said Mark Weisbrot, CEPR Co-Director and co-author of the report, “Haiti’s Fatally Flawed Election.”
    
CEPR has been unable to find a
presidential election in the Western Hemisphere, including Haiti, with
such a low turnout, going back to 1947. Haiti’s parliamentary election
of 2009, in which the country’s most popular political party was also
banned, had a turnout of less than 10 percent.

The OAS report does confirm some of the most important conclusions from CEPR’s analysis of the elections,
which was published on Sunday. For example, the OAS finds that 12
percent of the tally sheets were either not received by the Provisional
Electoral Council or were quarantined – a much larger number of lost
votes than the OAS or the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) had
previously publicly acknowledged.

Yet the OAS report concludes that the
election should not be re-run, but rather that the results should be
changed so that Michel Martelly, rather than the government candidate
Jude Celestin, would finish second and therefore proceed to a run-off
election.

But it is easy to see that there is no
sound basis for such a conclusion. For example, the missing tally sheets
came from areas that had a different distribution of votes than the
average for the country as a whole – one that favored Celestin. CEPR’s
analysis found that if the missing tally sheets had a distribution that
was the same as the other tally sheets that were received from the same
areas, then Celestin would have finished second, rather than third.

The OAS analysis was also
methodologically and statistically flawed in numerous other ways. Unlike
the CEPR report, which examined all of the 11,181 tally sheets, and
subjected each of the vote totals of the top three candidates to a
statistical test to look for irregularities, the OAS team focused on
tally sheets that had unusually high voter participation levels. They
then subjected this set of tally sheets to the following criteria:

“In accordance with this provision of the law, the Expert Mission set four specific criteria to determine if a PV [tally sheet] should be included: 1) the inclusion or absence of the required signatures of the polling officials on the Procès-Verbal [tally sheet]; 2) the inclusion or absence of the list of registered voters; 3) the presence and accuracy of the CIN [voter national identity] numbers to identify those voters who cast their ballots at that particular polling station; 4) if a Procès-Verbal [tally sheet] had been obviously altered to change the results of the elections, for instance adding a digit to a number to increase a vote total by a hundred or more, that PV [tally sheet] was also excluded.”

On this basis, the OAS team threw out 234 tally sheets, and with the remaining tally sheets calculated the results.

“This methodology really tells us
nothing about who really finished second in the first round of the
election, even among the small minority of voters that actually voted
and had their votes counted,” said Weisbrot.

Weisbrot also noted that the small
margin of difference between Martelly and Celestin in the OAS’s recount –
0.3 percent – was too small to statistically distinguish between the
two, given the sample size and variance.

“This appears to be a political, and not a professional, decision,” Weisbrot added.

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The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) was established in 1999 to promote democratic debate on the most important economic and social issues that affect people's lives. In order for citizens to effectively exercise their voices in a democracy, they should be informed about the problems and choices that they face. CEPR is committed to presenting issues in an accurate and understandable manner, so that the public is better prepared to choose among the various policy options.

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