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While Trying to Vote, Puerto Rico Gets Utterly Shafted Again

Primary was a total mess; voting halted at some centers, and will need to be rescheduled
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 10, 2020 12:31 AM CDT
Updated Aug 10, 2020 5:23 AM CDT

(Newser) – Puerto Ricans demanded answers 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 upcoming November general elections on an island with a voter participation rate of nearly 70%, the AP reports. “That scar will never leave Puerto Rico,” said political analyst Domingo Emanuelli. “It was a hold-up of the country’s democracy.”

Gov. Wanda Vázquez and other officials from Puerto Rico’s two main parties demanded the resignation of Juan Ernesto Dávila, president of the election commission. He 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 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 and briefly served as governor after Gov. 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. (Read more Puerto Rico stories.)

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