Post Elections: Day 6
After our late night last night, today wasn’t kicked into gear until noon, which still felt too early. After a brief visit to the embassy we set out to visit the tabulation center. Security was tight; UN and HNP officers were everywhere. Our official Haitian observer badges were barely enough to get us through the gate. Luckily John had his US Govt badge which I think put us over the top. Turned out Ambassador Carney was already inside, so they may have assumed we were together. I had a brief chat with the ambassador. He seemed pleased with the way things had run thus far.
The tabulation center was a giant warehouse filled with computers. Workers were designated in blue and red vests and giant Haitian Flags were strung from the ceiling. Canadian police strolled the isles with automatic weapons, while UN police controlled the doors. We were escorted briefly through the areas as the process of checks and balances was explained.
Every BV, after counting their ballots, sent a record to the tabulation center in Port-au-Prince. When the record arrived they were assigned a random, internal number that was used to track it through the process. The record was then given to the team in the red vests who added it to the database. The record then is passed to the team in the blue vests to do the same. The computer automatically checked the see if the results of the record match at both stations. Discrepancies were flagged and the record sent to a third office of lawyers.
After our brief visit we headed down the road to the airport to watch ballots arriving from the north. Our observer badges got us next to the tarmac, away from most of the press, which was nice. An enormous UN aircraft arrived soon thereafter. Watching the box being unloaded was rather unexciting, which falls in line with the old axiom, no news is good news. The results were taken by armed guard from the plane to the tabulation center. The UN was everywhere.
Tomorrow I head back to Miami, so this will be it for reporting from Haiti. Hopefully in a week’s time I will have recovered sufficiently that reflect upon my experience and actually put something cogent together. My thanks go to Matt Marek at the Norwich Mission House who put up with me for a week; to my driver Estiverne who got the least sleep of all of us; to my security detail Fred, McConnell, and Mike who would have dove in front of a bullet for any one of us; State Dept for the invitation to be imbedded with an observer team, and to John Robinson my partner whose French allowed me to go outside to take the “pulse of the people”, as he dubbed it, while he spoke with officials. There could not have been a better arrangement. And lastly, my many thanks to my boss, Congressman Kendrick B. Meek, who made this trip possible.
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