PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- Across Haiti yesterday, trucks, helicopters and pack mules fanned out to pick up ballot boxes and record voting results that in many cases were still being tabulated in ramshackle classrooms and rural churches as nervous presidential candidates worried about fraud and mismanagement.
While several international election observers said they found no signs of fraud, many agreed that poor planning and a lack of resources marred the elections. With only half the number of polling places used in previous elections, many centers were overwhelmed by a massive turnout of Haiti's 3.5 million registered voters.
The question now is whether the results will be accepted by a fractious political culture with little history of compromise or concession.
"There certainly was massive incompetence, but I can't say yet that there was massive fraud," said Charles Henri Baker, the wealthy industrialist who before Tuesday's vote polled among the top three on a crowded slate of 33 contenders for president.
"Some of my people personally witnessed people voting three, four, five, eight times, but was that organized? I can't say that," said Baker. "But what was beautiful was the turnout. The Haitian people said with this vote that they wanted democracy."
Ballots from 40 of 804 polling stations have been counted, a United Nations spokesman told reporters yesterday. Though results from some areas may be released over the next day, a definitive result likely will not be available until at least Friday, election officials said.
A runoff between the top two vote-getters is scheduled for March 19 if no candidate wins a majority.
Nobody disagrees that Tuesday's election showed little sign of the estimated $60 million supplied by the United States and other donors for election workers and equipment. Workers appeared poorly supervised at many voting places, observers said, and they lacked even electricity to direct the long lines of voters waiting to cast ballots Tuesday night.
Under the rules devised by Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council, polling places were supposed to be divided into biwo vot, or voting bureaus, that would each handle 400 pre-assigned voters. The voter's name and picture were supplied to each bureau on a list, and voters were supposed to be instructed where to vote.