CEPR Publishes Analysis of OAS Report Finding Serious Flaws, Unsupported Conclusions by the OAS Mission

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Dan Beeton, 202-239-1460

CEPR Publishes Analysis of OAS Report Finding Serious Flaws, Unsupported Conclusions by the OAS Mission

“Highly unusual for an electoral authority to change election results without a full recount.”

WASHINGTON - An analysis
from the Center for Economic and Policy Research finds that the
conclusions of a high-profile
report
[PDF] on Haiti's presidential elections from the
Organization of American States' (OAS) "Expert" Mission - which
recommends changing the result of the first round of the election --
are methodologically and statistically flawed, and arbitrary.

"It is highly unusual and perhaps unprecedented for any electoral
authority to change the results of an election without a full recount,"
said Mark
Weisbrot
, CEPR Co-Director of and co-author of the analysis.
"I can't recall ever seeing something like this.

"But for a foreign mission to do so with such flawed methodology, and
for foreign governments to then bring
pressure
on Haiti to accept the changed result - that really makes
a complete travesty of the democratic process," Weisbrot added.

The OAS Mission report threw out 234 tally sheets, thus putting Jude
Celestin, the government's candidate, in third place behind Michel
Martelly, a popular singer, who would then finish second by a small
margin of 0.3 percent of the vote (3,200 votes). However, there were
about six times as many tally sheets that were missing or quarantined.
The missing/quarantined tally sheets were from areas with a much higher
average vote for Celestin; CEPR's prior
report
estimated that if these ballot sheets had been included,
Celestin would have finished second, as the original vote count showed.
Only the first and second place finishers proceed to the runoff
election.

Unlike the CEPR
report
, which looked at all 11,181 tally sheets and subjected each
of the top three candidates' vote totals, for each voting booth, to a
statistical test for irregularities, the OAS Mission report examined
only a sample of 919 of the 11,181 tally sheets. The OAS Mission - a
team of which six out of seven members were from the US, Canada and
France (which is not an OAS member) -  then applied legal criteria,
such as whether the tally sheets were properly signed, to exclude 234
tally sheets. The OAS Mission report does not contain any statistical
inference from its sample to estimate the impact of irregularities in
the remaining 92 percent of tally sheets that it did not examine.

The election turnout was also amazingly small, with only about 27
percent of registered voters going to the polls - a record low for a
presidential election in the Western Hemisphere, including Haiti, for
more than 60 years. An even smaller percentage, 22.9 percent, had their
votes counted, and disenfranchisement was even higher in those areas
most affected by the earthquake -- about half of the overall average.

"This is another obvious reason why the election needs to be re-done,"
said Weisbrot.

The majority of Haitians who voted in the last presidential election,
in 2006 - which had a turnout of 59.3 percent - did not vote in this
election.

Haitian President Rene Preval and Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council
are under strong political pressure from the United
States
, France,
and other foreign governments to accept the OAS "Expert" Mission's
recommendation to change the election results. Observers fear more
unrest should the Haitian authorities accept the report's conclusions.

###

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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