PORT-AU-PRINCE — Haiti's chaotic, tension-filled election campaign, which began as a war of graffiti and posters two months ago, ended Friday with marathon rallies, helicopter high jinks, wild accusations — and voter apathy.
"It's still early and I don't know which person I am going to vote for and even then I don't know if I'm going to vote," said Ferdinand Daniel, 29, a victim of the Jan. 12 earthquake who now lives in a camp.
How many Haitians will show up when polls open at 6 a.m. Sunday, and who among the crowded and colorful field will emerge as leaders, remain far from certain. If no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, a runoff for the two top finishers will be held in January.
"Being the handsomenest guy or gal, or being the sentimental favorite doesn't win elections," said Eduardo Gamarra, a political strategist who has consulted in elections in the neighboring Dominican Republic and has been following the Haiti campaign since it began in September. "It's organizing."
On Friday, it was all about the mad rush to get that one last vote in a high-stakes election where 19 names appear on the presidential ballots although two candidates have already withdrawn. Some 900 candidates are also running for 110 legislative seats in parliament.
"Lots of fraud is going on," candidate Jean-Henry Céant charged on his way to campaign stops in Arcahaie and Cite Soleil.
Accusations of fraud and vote-buying have been rampant, but on Friday it was all about the last-minute free T-shirt, and even bags of rice that candidates distributed to potential voters. A truck promoting presidential candidate and former minister of social affairs Yves Cristalin handed out posters and rice along a traffic-clogged street in Carrefour.
It was also a day of news conferences, and calls for Haitians to vote.
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