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Low turnout expected in Haiti's polls amid voter intimidation and apathy

Polls open late in Haiti in presidential and parliamentary elections.

Women wait in line to cast their ballots outside a polling station in Port-au-Prince today.
Women wait in line to cast their ballots outside a polling station in Port-au-Prince today.
Image: Andres Leighton/AP/Press Association Images

THE POLLS HAVE OPENED in Haiti’s first elections since the devastating earthquake in January.

Over 250,000 people were killed in the earthquake, and a recent cholera outbreak has killed over 1,400 people. More than 1 million people are still living in camps after the quake.

Reuters reports that polling stations were struggling to open today, with a number of centres failing to open on time.

People living at the La Pista camping, one of the makeshift camps set up for homeless earthquake survivors, complained they have not received their new identity cards which are required for voting.

Those complaints have also been reported by the Haiti Democracy Project, which has a 75-member team across Haiti to observe the elections.

Thousands of UN peacekeeping troops are helping Haiti’s police force to guard the 11,000 polling stations. One Haitian told Global Post that in Haiti, “elections are violent”. GP reports that campaigners have been attacked and journalists covering the pre-election race have been attacked.

Turnout is expected to be low due to a combination of voter apathy, confusion and intimidation, according to the Christian Science Monitor. Some Haitians told the CSM that people would not vote because they did not trust the election.

No clear favourite has emerged from the list of 19 presidential candidates. Musician Wyclef Jean considered running for the post, but did not qualify for candidacy.

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Al Jazeera reports that 96 people are contending for 11 senate seats and over 800 are seeking seats in the 99-seat parliament. Polling also include local and municipal elections.

This Al Jazeera report shows a growing level of anger and political disillusionment in Haiti:

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