Election Data Suggests MINUSTAH to Blame for Irregularities
- Wednesday, March 23, 2011 11:50 AM
On election day, at the Jeane Ayiti Centre de Projets in downtown PetionVille, 12 people sit around the table with their laptops and smartphones.
They were updating the Mwen Konte voting map, a Google Map of Haiti generated from a database of SMS text message reports of irregularities and fraud in the voting process.
The map is covered in green house icons with a few red flags scattered around the countryside, testaments to incidents of voting fraud or irregularities that polling station supervisors had reported via an SMS text message.
The Mwen Konte map attempted to track any such disruptions so that after results were tallied, there would be data to back up any claims of fraud — which inevitably the losing party will claim.
This version of the map is based on the concept of USHAHIDI maps, originally designed so people could anonymously report cases of violence and fraud in the Kenya elections. The software has been adapted for a number of purposes since then.
Hans Tippenhauer, President of the Jeane Ayiti Foundation, worked with the software first in the Survivors Connect project, which allowed people to send SMS reports of human rights violations in Haiti.
They found that people were much more likely to report crimes if they could do it anonymously and easily in the form of an SMS message, that that these reports could paint a telling picture for human rights organizations to decide where their services were needed most.
Specifically, the USHAHIDI maps could illuminate systematic occurrences of child trafficking and crimes against women and pinpoint their locations.
“While we were doing that, we found it was a good way to survey the population,” Tippenhauer said. The goal, he said, was to build a participatory democracy network, and thus Mwen Konte was established.
Analyzing the Data
Halfway through Election Day at about 12:30, there were no reports of fraud, only “irregularities.” This was a change from the previous election where at about the same time, they had already received over 200 reports of fraud.
According to Tippenhauer, the materials came from both local sources, ie: the CEP, and foreign sources like the MINUSTAH (the acronym for the United Nations base in Haiti).
What Tippenhauer noticed from the data, was that the missing materials were almost all ones that should have been provided by foreign sources and the MINUSTAH.
Additionally, the missing materials were associated with polling stations that data from the previous Election Day indicated were in locations where Martelly was favored over Manigat.
“This is not an accusation, just an observation from the data,” Tippenhauer said, though in full disclosure he did say he favored Martelly and had a part in managing his campaign.