Haiti elections: cell phones and internet to facilitate voter turnout
Port-au-Prince - In preparation for Haiti’s second round of presidential and legislative elections this Sunday 20 March, the United Nations Development Programme is disseminating information to voters using text messages, a revamped website as well as activating a voter hotline.
Since more than 75 percent of Haitians have access to mobile phones, these devices have become crucial tools to access information, confirm voter registration status and obtain information on the location of polling centers.
Working with the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) – the independent body which oversees elections in Haiti – UNDP has so far reached over half a million Haitians and expect the numbers to rise in the next two days.
Over the past three months, UNDP has been working closely with the CEP and in collaboration with the UN Mission for the Stabilization of Haiti and other international partners, to overcome some of the technical challenges experienced in the first round of elections held on 28 November 2010, including the need to release of information about polling stations in advance, which caused frustration among voters.
“Since the first round, we have seen the Council implement several of the international community’s recommendations, which hopefully will lead to a smoother second round,” said Lourdes Gonzalez, UNDP Project Manager for Elections. “Reaching out to so many voters in such a short period of time seems to me a remarkable achievement that will help increase voter turnout on Sunday.”
Working in partnership with mobile phone companies, CEP reached 400,000 voter with information on polling centers location and hours of operation.
UNDP helped the CEP to improve their elections website, (www.cephaiti2010.org) resulting in more than 25,000 voters automatically receiving voting details after typing in their National Identification Number.
In addition, more than 200,000 voters cleared their queries through an enhanced call center, with additional toll-free lines and up to 60 operators working daily to clear voter queries.
To further assist voters, the CEP recruited and trained over 1,000 additional people to help orient voters in polling stations on Elections day.
Fourteen months after the devastating earthquake that killed over 300,000 people and affected over 2 million Haitians, some 4,7 million voters are registered for the second round of presidential polls to elect one of the two candidates Mirlande Manigat.or Michel Martelly.