Puerto Rico partially suspends primary voting due to lack of ballots
Puerto Rico partially suspended primary voting on Sunday over a lack of ballots, according to officials.
The elections commission said primaries for voting centers that had not received ballots by early afternoon are expected to be rescheduled, while voting would continue elsewhere, The Associated Press reported.
Voters who turned out in required face masks amid the coronavirus pandemic were turned away from voting centers across Puerto Rico and told no ballots were available, the newswire reported.
Gov. Wanda Vázquez, who is running for reelection as part of the pro-statehood New Progressive Party, said the situation was “totally unacceptable and outrageous.”
“What happened today by the State Elections Commission is unprecedented and there is no excuse that can support it,” she tweeted, according to the platform’s English translation of her post.
“This matter must be addressed immediately and the alternatives analyzed so that the constitutional right of all the voters of the precincts that have not yet left the trucks is absolutely guaranteed so that they can exercise their vote in the law primaries,” she added.
¡Esto es totalmente inaceptable e indignante! Lo ocurrido durante el día de hoy por parte de la Comisión Estatal de Elecciones es algo sin precedentes y no hay excusa alguna que pueda sustentarlo.
— Wanda Vázquez Garced (@wandavazquezg) August 9, 2020
Pedro Pierluisi, who is running against the governor in the primary, tweeted that he is “totally opposed to the paralyzing of the voting process in this primary.”
“Today the entire electoral system has been violated, hundreds of thousands of voters have been prevented from exercising their right to vote. This is an embarrassment for Puerto Rico. We are going to guarantee the vote to all Puerto Ricans,” he said in a separate tweet, according to the platform’s translation.
Hoy se ha violentado todo el sistema electoral, se le ha impedido a cientos de miles de votantes ejercer su derecho al voto. Esto es un bochorno para Puerto Rico. Vamos a garantizarle el voto a todos los puertorriqueños. En conferencia de prensa aquí: https://t.co/QOlAIXvL5k
— Pedro R. Pierluisi (@pedropierluisi) August 9, 2020
The president of the governor’s party, Thomas Rivera Schatz, and the president of the main opposition Popular Democratic Party held a joint press conference announcing they agreed the remaining primaries should be held on Aug. 16, the AP reported.
Vázquez said she supported the move, according to the newswire.
Schatz said there were still trucks with ballots inside parked at the commission’s headquarters as they spoke at the press conference.
“The question is, why haven’t they left?” he said, according to AP.
A commission spokeswoman told the AP that officials were not immediately available for comment.
A federal control board that oversees Puerto Rico’s finances issued a statement blaming the “dysfunctional” voting process on inefficiency by the elections commission.
“The Oversight Board is deeply concerned about the dysfunctional voting process in today’s primary elections in Puerto Rico,” The Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico said in a statement. “Elections are the very foundation of democracy, and what the people of Puerto Rico experienced today is unacceptable.”
The two pro-statehood New Progressive Party gubernatorial candidates both served as replacements for former Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, who stepped down last year. Vásquez was sworn in last year after a court invalidated Pierluisi’s appointment.