MONDAY, JUNE 26, 1995

Illiteracy Hinders Vote In Haiti

The voter became frustrated when the pen made no mark on her ballot. She had never used a pen before and was trying to use the wrong end.

At other polling stations, voters seemed confused by the array of candidates’ color photographs on ballots specially designed for people who can’t read and write. Many asked for help.

“How do I vote?” an embarrassed young man asked as he sat at a table in a polling station, converted from a former jail cell in an army post.

“Just put an ‘X’ by the candidate you want,” replied the election worker. The man looked at her quizzically.

Such incidents, common in Sunday’s balloting for legislative and local candidates, underscore the problems that can arise during elections in a nation where as much as 85 percent of the population is illiterate.

Voters’ inability to understand the most basic concepts of voting further compounded a disorganized election, marred by the failure of hundreds of voting stations to open, by missing names from voter registration lists and minor scuffles.


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