Democratic nominee for president cites historic ‘pride’ in local elections; says 'every vote must count'
SAN JUAN – Former vice president and Democratic Party presidential candidate Joe Biden weighed in Tuesday on the crisis prompted by Sunday's botched primary election in Puerto Rico, decrying it as "unacceptable" and saying that "every vote should count. "
“For decades, elections in Puerto Rico were known for their high participation rates and transparency. It was a process that many took pride in, ”Biden said in a statement issued by his campaign.
“It is unacceptable that the people of Puerto Rico, who waited in line Sunday amid a global pandemic, were denied the right to vote,” the presidential candidate continued. Their voices must be heard. Our democracy only works when each citizen has the ability to exercise their right to vote. Every vote must count. "
In an unprecedented move, the Puerto Rico State Elections Commission (SEC) suspended the island's primary elections early Sunday afternoon after being unable to deliver ballots to more than half of the island's election precincts and rescheduled voting at these locations for Sunday, Aug 16.
Many voters were turned away from polling places that had not received ballots and told to return later. Primaries were being held for the New Progressive Party (NPP) and Popular Democratic Party (PDP) gubernatorial nominations as well as for a number of House, Senate and mayoral posts.
The decision — reached hesitantly between SEC President Juan Ernesto Dávila, NPP President Thomas Rivera Schatz and PDP President Aníbal José Torres — included allowing the rest of the polling locations that received ballots to complete the process last Sunday while not disclosing these results until the other polling places complete their voting process.
The move has led to primary candidates, including Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced, who is vying to be the NPP standard-bearer in the Nov. 3 general elections, to file lawsuits against the SEC and NPP and PDP electoral commissioners petitioning the court to overturn their decision and resume the primaries before Sunday, allowing polling stations that did not receive ballots to complete the voting process.
The Puerto Rico Supreme Court announced Tuesday that it will take up the lawsuit filed by Gov. Vázquez along with similar legal actions filed since Sunday by her contender, former Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi, PDP gubernatorial candidates Sen. Eduardo Bhatia and Isabela Mayor Carlos Delgado Altieri, and Trujillo Alto voter Carmen Damaris Quiñones, who is represented by the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).