Puerto Ricans demanded answers on Monday after botched primaries forced officials to reschedule voting at centers lacking ballots, an unprecedented decision being called a blow to the US territory’s democracy.
The island’s elections commission remained silent as anger and embarrassment spread across Puerto Rico one day after hundreds of voters were turned away from shuttered centers that for unknown reasons received ballots several hours late or never received them at all.
It was the first time primaries have been halted and led many to worry that it has cracked Puerto Ricans’ confidence in their government and could affect the outcome of November’s general elections on an island with a voter participation rate of nearly
“That scar will never leave Puerto Rico,” said political analyst Domingo Emanuelli. “It was a hold-up of the country’s democracy.”
Continue reading at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/aug/10/puerto-rico-primary-election
On Monday, Carlos Méndez, president of the island’s house of representatives, demanded that the commission release the results of the nearly 60 out of 110 precincts where voting was able to take place on Sunday.
Governor Wanda Vázquez and other officials from Puerto Rico’s two main parties also have demanded the resignation of Juan Ernesto Dávila, president of the election commission. He declined comment via a spokeswoman but told NotiUno radio station that he would resign once the primaries are over, saying it would be irresponsible to step down before that.
Meanwhile, questions about why Puerto Rico held a primary if ballots were not available and how it was possible that no one knew about the problem until it was too late remained unanswered.
The electoral commission officials for the pro-statehood New Progressive party and the main opposition Popular Democratic party did not return calls or messages for comment.
The primary is one of the most closely watched races in the island’s history since it pits two candidates who served as replacement governors following last year’s political turmoil. Vázquez faces Pedro Pierluisi, who represented Puerto Rico in Congress from 2009 to 2017.
Pierluisi briefly served as governor after Governor Ricardo Rosselló resigned in August 2019 following widespread street protests over a profanity-laced chat that was leaked and government corruption. But Puerto Rico’s supreme court ruled that Vázquez, then the justice secretary, was constitutionally next in line because there was no secretary of state.
Meanwhile, the Popular Democratic party, which supports Puerto Rico’s current political status as a US territory, is holding a primary for the first time in its 82-year history. Three people are vying to become governor – the San Juan mayor, Carmen Yulín Cruz, known for her public spats with Donald Trump following the devastation of Hurricane Maria; the Puerto Rico senator Eduardo Bhatia; and Carlos Delgado, mayor of the north-west coastal town of Isabela.
While another primary is scheduled for 16 August, some expect lawsuits and legal loopholes to potentially upset those plans.
At least one voter filed a lawsuit against the commission and the electoral officials of the two main parties late on Sunday via the American Civil Liberties Union. Pierluisi also filed a lawsuit against the commission and the two officials as he rejected its decision to hold another primary next Sunday.