Working with the Organization of American States to register voters in Haiti

The January 2010 earthquake in Haiti erased the identities of thousands of citizens and destroyed any official records that might have existed. Worse still, thousands of potential voters had never been registered or even counted in the Government of Haiti's civil registry.  Without recognized identities, citizens cannot participate in the economic, political, and democratic life of their communities or their country including: getting a job, owning property, opening a bank account, or attending university.

Marie-Claude Delson, a street vendor who sells spices, explains:

"You need the national ID card to do your banking and to do business. If you do not have the card, don't bother going to the bank or hope to get a small loan."

To help resolve this challenge, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), in partnership with the Organization of American States (OAS), is engaged in a project to strengthen Haiti's National Identification Office and modernize its capacity to establish a national identification and registration system that is permanent, universally accessible, secure, and non-discriminatory.

So far, 85 percent of eligible voters, or 4.9 million Haitians, have been registered on the voters' list. Many Haitian public servants have been trained to use new technology as part of this initiative.  This includes scanning millions of hard-copy documents so they are more accessible and can be used electronically, giving Haitians improved and expanded access to government services. Updating the civil registry has also been crucial for effective policy planning by the Haitian government.