Puerto Ricanians like Carmen Damaris Quiñones Torres still don’t know who was nominated for their governor’s office two days after the island held a chaotic primary election supposedly to determine who would get it. name in the vote in November.
Quiñones Torres, who lives in the town of Trujillo Alto, was ready to vote in the Puerto Rico primary ballot on Sunday when she knew her polling place was closed because she had never received any ballots. Other polling centers received the ballot papers a few hours after the polls were scheduled to begin or end halfway in the preliminary round.
These scenes were screened at hundreds of voting centers on the island.
Quiñones Torres, with the help of Puerto Rico̵7;s ACLU chapter, is suing the president of the island’s electoral committee, as well as political party members who oversee the primary election, alleging that their decision closes door to early voting when the primary takes place on Sunday. illegal and unconstitutional.
Election Commission Chairman Juan Ernesto Dávila, along with party commissar María Santiago Rodríguez and Lind Merle Feliciano as well as other officials, are facing backlash about ending the poll early. Other critics also criticized them for letting the final polling sites receive long hours working ballots, claiming that some voters had left because of the delay.
Dávila told Telemundo Puerto Rico on Tuesday night that his agency was working to reopen voting centers that did not receive Sunday votes for the makeup primitive poll on August 16. It is not clear what will happen to polling places that have run out of ballots.
Mayte Bayolo-Alonso, an ACLU attorney working on the case, told NBC News that there are no “laws, resolutions or legal rulings” to allow Election Commission members who are ” officials not elected to be part of the executive branch, “suspend or postpone a primary.
“Expand it, you can do it because you don’t limit voting rights, you’re offering more. But they can’t limit the date or time of an ongoing primary election,” she said. . “Even in the US, the law makes it clear that you cannot close poll polls in the middle of the electoral process.”
“When you do that, you did irreparable damage,” says Bayolo-Alonso. “What we are trying to do now is minimize that damage and ensure that those abandoned can exercise the right to vote.”
The ineffective preliminary process also spurred a series of lawsuits from candidates in the primaries – including one from Governor Wanda Vázquez, who was not elected after taking office last year then. is the Governor. Ricardo Rosselló resigned amid massive protests erupted by a political scandal. Her main rival, Pedro Pierluisi, who, like Vázquez of the pro-state New Progressive Party, is also filing lawsuits with opposition party candidates Eduardo Bhatia and Carlos Delgado.
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Carlos Méndez, chairman of the island’s House of Representatives, and other officials are urging the committee to announce the results of about 60 of the 110 that took place in an effort to be transparent. Others are asking the commission to withhold the release of the results, arguing it could affect how people vote in additional elections.
On Wednesday morning, the Puerto Rico Supreme Court issued an order that paralyzed “the counting, monitoring and disclosure of the votes in last Sunday’s primary election” until the case was resolved. decided.
Voters’ ballots are placed in a “locked cage” in a stadium that serves as the center of action for the Election Commission. According to Dávila, they are being protected by the police and by representatives of the candidates running.
Voter control is often high?
Bayolo-Alonso said she saw many red flags ahead of the primary election after the Puerto Rican government passed a new election code in June amid the coronavirus pandemic – changing election rules around 130 day before the November 3 general election on the island.
This means that Puerto Rican voters – known for their 70% or more voter participation rate – have a limited amount of time to find out what is considered a valid vote and The bodies that oversee the electoral process must work continuously to comply with the new set of rules.
Bayolo-Alonso said in Spanish: “Even by the time the new electoral code was passed, the Election Commission was not formed. The new law requires ballots to be printed 75 days before the election, but that new rule was in place on June 20, two weeks before Sunday’s primary election. “So since it was approved, there have been violations,” she said.
Amid concerns about the coronavirus virus, islanders Puerto Rican can only participate in the primary ballot if they vote in person, according to the new election code. “And that choice has been limited by a poor quality process,” says Bayolo-Alonso.
On top of that, the coronavirus lockout in Puerto Rico banned new voters from registering for 95 days. New voters in Puerto Rico can only register in person. “It’s also a kind of persecution of voters,” says Bayolo-Alonso.
Now, the Puerto Rico Supreme Court is dependent on the introduction of a legal framework that ensures that the electoral process is not broken in the November general election.
The Puerto Rico Supreme Court is scheduled to ruling on the case on Wednesday night.
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