NORTH MIAMI—Carline Paul keeps an honest-to-goodness Florida voting machine—an iVotronic touch-screen model—in the cluttered space that was once her living room. Gray-haired Haitian American men speaking lyric Kreyol and wearing baffled expressions let Paul hold their hands as she guided them through sample ballots.
“When you see D-E-M,” she said urgently, mixing English and Kreyol, “Baton!” Hit it!
The run-up to the election is also clogged with court cases, including disputes over runoff provisions and a controversial decision by Secretary of State Glenda E. Hood (R) that could prevent thousands from voting because they did not check a box on their registration forms that asked whether they are U.S. citizens. Some counties are following her ruling, others are not. Then there is the wildcard of 600,000 newly registered voters.
Celestin has seen the Jeb effect among Haitian Americans. Even a small gain in that group would be considered a coup for Republicans trying to overcome widespread outrage among the black population, many of whom believe they were disenfranchised in the 2000 election. Jeb Bush drew cheers this weekend at a rally when he talked about the U.S. government’s efforts to stabilize Haiti. He also promised to discuss with the president a long-stalled request for “temporary protected status” for Haitian immigrants, which would end the Bush administration’s policy of automatic deportations on the grounds that Haiti allegedly harbors terrorists.