- Associated Press - Thursday, November 6, 2014

MIAMI (AP) - Haiti’s government is making it easier for its citizens living abroad to get the documents needed to obtain passports or vote in their homeland’s elections.

The head of Haiti’s civil registry tells The Miami Herald (https://hrld.us/1EjPXsV ) that the agency will open an office next month at Haiti’s consulate in Miami and at consulates elsewhere to register Haitians for national identification cards.

That means Haitians won’t have to fly to Haiti to apply for the cards, which are valid for 10 years and assign registry numbers similar to Social Security numbers.

The move may pave the way for allowing Haitians living abroad to vote in elections at home. Haiti’s National Identification Office will monitor demand for the cards at the consulates to determine where voting bureaus outside Haiti might be installed, said the agency’s executive director, Jean-Baptist Fils St. Cyr.

“There is a motivation among some people in the diaspora, when they come to (Haiti) for 15 or 22 days, they rush to our office to get a number,” St. Cyr said Wednesday. “Even though the process is long, they never hesitate. So we decided that if you have this kind of determination, why not bring the services to the people living in the diaspora?”

Haiti’s revised constitution allows Haitians living outside the country to vote in future elections.

In past elections, Haitian candidates have campaigned in the U.S., acknowledging the money and influence generated in large Haitian communities in South Florida, Boston and New York. Haiti’s government also has sought the support of the diaspora, so “it’s not normal for them to stand outside of the political sphere,” St. Cyr said.

A political impasse has blocked long-overdue legislative and local elections in Haiti. President Michel Martelly was supposed to call elections in 2011 for a majority of Senate seats, the entire Chamber of Deputies and local offices. But he hasn’t done so, in part because six senators have blocked a vote on an electoral law authorizing the vote, arguing it is unconstitutional and favors the government.

U.S. and U.N. officials are pressing for a resolution before January, when the terms of a majority of the Senate expire and Parliament will be dissolved.


Information from: The Miami Herald, https://www.herald.com

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