On Sunday, Friends of Haiti 2010 organized a mock election allowing Haitians living abroad to cast ballots just like their friends and family in Haiti. The only difference is that their votes won’t count.
Because of their contributions—financial and otherwise—Haitians living abroad want representation and a greater voice in the future of the country. The World Bank estimates that the 1 million Haitians living abroad (half of which reside in the United States) send upwards of $1.5 billion to the country every year. That money usually pays for schooling, medicine, and food, and these contributions have become even more important in the aftermath of the January earthquake and recent cholera outbreak.
Immigrants cast ballots in Boston, New York, Miami and more, making it clear that although they may reside elsewhere, they want the right to vote in Haiti. Voting was an informal affair—at one location, ballots were held in a shoebox—but it nevertheless underscored the deep ties between the Haitian community and their country.
Unfortunately, as election day progressed in Haiti, reports of street protests, inaccurate lists, and claims of voter fraud became a prominent theme across the country. Results are not expected until next week, and a second round of voting is scheduled for January if no presidential candidate secures a majority of the initial vote.
However, balloting went smoothly in Massachusetts, and after counting 54 votes in Boston and Brockton, Michel Martelly emerged as the local favorite with 75 percent of the vote.