SAN JUAN – As Puerto Rico continues to grapple with a 30 percent surge in Covid-19 cases, residents are also pushing through the election process, which started more than a week ago with the organization and counting of mailed-in absentee ballots and early votes , which are restricted on the island mainly to people who have to work on election day or people whose healthcare condition makes it difficult to leave their home or healthcare facility.
Because Puerto Rico’s Election Day is a holiday, early voting is not widespread but due to the pandemic, mail-in voting was expanded, creating logistical issues that persisted up to the election’s eve.
Adding to the uncertainty are several polls. El Nuevo Día, Radio Isla and Telemundo found the highest scoring candidates each getting around 35 percent of the votes, while the Vocero poll and the Nexos Economics non-probabilistic poll have no candidate garnering even 30 percent.
While Puerto Rico has had three main parties for decades, with others popping in and out of the electoral stage, the overwhelming majority of the electorate had oscillated between the Popular Democratic Party (PDP), which has Charlie Delgado as its gubernatorial candidate, and the New Progressive Party (NPP), whose gubernatorial hopeful is Pedro Pierluisi.
While Pierluisi and Delgado consistently trade the top spot as vote-getters in the surveys, some polls increasingly show the so-called minority parties attracting a larger number of followers, especially the Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP by its Spanish acronym), with Juan Dalmau at its help, while Movimiento Victoria Ciudadana (MVC, or Citizens’ Victory Movement) is led by Alexandra Lúgaro.
Also on the ballot is another new party, Proyecto Dignidad, whose founder, Dr. César Vázquez, is also vying to serve as governor, while Eliezer Molina is running as an independent candidate.
Aside from the regular state, legislative and municipal ballots, the 2020 election also includes a yes-or-no plebiscite on whether Puerto Rico should be annexed as a state.