Haiti has suffered much in the last year. A massive earthquake in January killed some 250,000 people and left hundreds of thousands homeless. The recovery effort has been slow and as Haitians struggle to rebuild their lives an outbreak of cholera has struck, claiming over 1,300 more lives.
Amid this turmoil, national elections are scheduled to be held this weekend, leaving some to question if the island nation is up to the task and might best put the voting off for another day. This would be a mistake, however. Since the end of the Duvalier dictatorship in 1986 there have been five presidential elections, and the one set for Sunday, November 28 may be the most important of all.
Rather than a distraction, it will be an important step in restoring stability in Haiti by giving its people a say in its future.
Following the earthquake, the Haitian government and United Nations studied whether after such destruction an election was feasible, from registering new voters, replacing lost or destroyed voter cards, ensuring that there are enough polling places and developing procedures for people displaced from their communities to vote. They found that yes, an election would be possible, and the government together with many in the international community has worked since then to prepare for the voting. Registrations have taken place, polling stations established, poll workers hired and a cadre of international observers assembled to ensure that the voting is free, fair and transparent. Now all that is needed are the voters themselves.
Given the issues that the next president and the next legislature must deal with is helping guide Haiti's future, the Haitian people should let their voices be heard at the polls November 28. We urge the people of Haiti to go out and vote and to exercise their hard-won right to do so.