Haiti Voter Beware

Fair and inclusive elections may prove impossible in Haiti this year. In the run-up to the Nov. 28 presidential vote, post-quake logistics are presenting huge challenges: some 230,000 dead have to be purged from voter rolls and 1.3 million displaced have to be reregistered—and the constitutional deadline for that has already passed.

But an even greater problem may be Haiti’s electoral commission itself. It has sidelined 15 candidates without explanation and has excluded the Lavalas Party, which stands in opposition to the current president, René Préval. International investors and donors are worried that a tainted election will further impede the country’s already hobbling reconstruction efforts. Experts say rebuilding Haiti will necessarily infringe on individuals’ property rights—and the less trust Haitians have in their government, the quicker they’re likely to fight back. In the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, lesser issues have stirred unrest.