Puerto Rico forced to partially suspend primary voting due to lack of ballots: “It’s a shame”

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Puerto Rico was forced to partially suspend voting in a shortage of ballot primaries on Sunday as officials called on the chairman of the U.S. Territory Election Commission to step down.

Primaries in polling centers that had not received ballots by early afternoon are expected to be postponed, while voting continues elsewhere, the committee said.

“I have never seen anything on American soil like what has just been done here in Puerto Rico. It is a shame for our government and our people, ”said Pedro Pierluisi, who is running against governess Wanda Vázquez, to become the nominees of the pro-state New Progressive Party.

Party chairman Thomas Rivera Schatz along with the chairman of the main opposition People’s Democratic Party held a joint press conference and said they were in favor of the remaining primaries being held. August 16. Other politicians have argued that all of the primaries be scrapped and detained at another date.

An incredulous Schatz noted that there were still trucks with ballot papers inside parked at the commission headquarters as they spoke there.

“The question is, why haven’t they left? ” he said.

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An official turns down two voters at a ballot-less polling center in Carolina, Puerto Rico, Sunday, August 9, 2020. Puerto Rico’s primaries were marred Sunday by a lack of ballots in the majority of centers across US territory, forcing frustrated voters who braved a peak in COVID-19 cases to turn around and go home.
(AP)

Hundreds of frustrated voters who wore required face masks and braved a spike in COVID-19 cases were kicked out of centers in Puerto Rico after officials told them no ballots were available.

The situation has infuriated voters and politicians of all stripes, blaming Puerto Rico’s electoral commission and demanding an explanation so that ballots only reached a handful of polling centers in the afternoon.

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“It is indignant, abusive and an attempt against democracy in our country,” said Marcos Cruz, mayor of the northern town of Vega Baja who was still awaiting the ballot.

Meanwhile, officials from the island’s two main parties scrambled to find solutions, urging voters to show up at centers that remained open.

Yadira Pizarro, a 44-year-old teacher, ran out of patience at a closed polling center in Carolina where she had waited more than four hours under a scorching sun.

” I can not believe it. This is gross negligence, ”she said.

An election official, right, tells a voter the ballots did not arrive at a polling center in Caroline, Puerto Rico, Sunday, August 9, 2020. Puerto Rico’s primaries were marred on Sunday by a lack of ballots in a majority of centers across U.S. territory, forcing frustrated voters who braved a peak in COVID-19 cases to turn around and go home.
(AP)

One of the most watched races on Sunday is that of the New Progressive Pro-State Party, which pits two candidates who served as replacement governors in the wake of last year’s political unrest. Vázquez faces Pierluisi, who represented Puerto Rico in Congress from 2009 to 2017. Pierluisi briefly served as governor after Gov. Ricardo Rosselló resigned in August 2019 following widespread street protests for rude gossip that has leaked and government corruption. But Puerto Rico’s Supreme Court ruled that Vázquez, then justice secretary, was constitutionally next because there was no secretary of state.

Meanwhile, the main opposition People’s Democratic Party, which supports Puerto Rico’s current political status as U.S. territory, is holding a primary for the first time in its 82-year history. Three people are in the running to become governor – San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, known for her public meetings with US President Donald Trump following the devastation of Hurricane Maria; Puerto Rican Senator Eduardo Bhatia; and Carlos Delgado, mayor of the northwestern coastal town of Isabela.

The winning candidates from both parties will be among the six candidates for governor in the November general election.

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