Photo: Getty Images
It is the first time in the island's election history that the process has been halted. Photo: Getty Images

Puerto Rico’s primary voting suspended

A lack of ballots causes delays on PR’s primary elections, turning away hundreds of voters from the booths.


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Those who made it to  the polling places in Puerto Rico in time were required to wear face masks because of the ongoing global pandemic, but their presence and participation didn’t mean much.

Puerto Rico officials are being forced to reschedule their primary after a lack of ballots was reported at voting centers across the island.

While the people of the U.S. territory are angry, the election commission have not said a word. 

Citizens of the island were turned away from the centers, received the ballots hours later, or never received them at all. 

It is the first time that primaries were halted in Puerto Rico. 

This, unsurprisingly, has brought worry and embarrassment to Puerto Ricans. They have heavily criticized the government, and raised concerns about an even more troublesome development: the snafu could affect the November general elections. 

The voter participation on the island is almost 70%.

Puerto Rico’s Governor, Wana Vazquez, is running for reelection as part of the New Progressive Party. Vazquez made a statement on Twitter saying the lack of ballots 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 added.

“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,” Vazquez closed. 

The opposing candidate, Pedro Pierluisi, who's running against Vazquez for governor in the primary also tweeted against the mistake: 

“Totally opposed to the paralyzing of the voting process in this primary,” he wrote.

Pierluisi continued in the vein of many other Puerto Ricans, calling the lack of ballots an “embarrassment.”

“Today the entire electoral system has been violated, hundreds of thousands of voters have been prevented from exercising their right to vote,” he said.

On Aug. 10, the president of Puerto Rico’s House of Representatives ordered that the election commission release the results of the almost 60 out of 110 precincts where voting took place on Aug. 9.

The Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico also released a statement about the mess up.

“The Oversight Board is deeply concerned about the dysfunctional voting process in today’s primary elections in Puerto Rico, Elections are the very foundation of democracy, and what the people of Puerto Rico experienced today is unacceptable,” it wrote.

This primary is arguably one of the most important in the island’s history. It has been very closely watched because the two candidates will serve as the official replacement governors after last years’ political problems. 

It is also vitally important for Puerto Rico’s Popular Democratic Party, which is holding the first primary in its 82-year existence, and features candidates like former San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, senator Eduardo Bhatia, and Mayor of Isabela, Carlos Delgado.

The follow-up primary is scheduled for Aug. 16, but there may be lawsuits and legal loopholes that could affect those plans. 


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