The interim head of the Ombudsman for Persons with Disabilities (DPI), Gabriel E. Corchado Ménde z, made a call to the management of the State Elections Commission ( CEE), New Progressive Party (PNP) and Popular Democratic Party (PPD) to pay special attention to the telephone voting process that, by law, is offered to people with disabilities.
The voting process for the primaries will continue this coming Sunday, April 16, after they had to be postponed due to the lack of ballots in most of the precincts.
“The past Sunday we made a claim of this type, because we had cases where the system was not available, and there was even a school in San Juan where the easily accessible school had two steps and the citizen Edwin Alequín made a public complaint. We must respect the right and space of people with disabilities, it is fair and it is the law "said Corchado in written statements.
For his part, the coordinator of the Program for the Protection and Defense of Rights of Voters with Disabilities (PAVA for its acronym in English), Gabriel Esterrich Lombay detailed that the 'Vote by Phone' system must be complied with in view of Section 301, 3 (b) of the Law “Help America Vote Act” (HAVA, for its acronym in English).
“It establishes the requirement to use at least one direct recording electronic voting system or other voting system equipped for persons with impediments in each electoral college. This contract was signed between Wednesday and Thursday last and the EEC did not give it a promotion. Our Program encouraged the signing of the 'Vote by Phone' contracts, we promoted it as soon as we officially met it, but in the midst of the chaos the phones did not arrive on Sunday ”he said.
In monitoring carried out last Sunday to dozens of voting centers of both political parties where the process could be carried out, very few had the telephone vote.
“For example, it was available in a school of the José Dávila School in Bayamón, specifically in the Primary of the Popular Democratic Party, but in the same voting center, in the halls of the New Progressive Party the 'Vote by Phone' system was not observed and it must be in all schools. Although the EEC informed us that they did not arrive, they were simply not in the briefcases ”Esterrich added.
The DPI urged the EEC electoral operations officials to be careful that all briefcases include the system .
“We are aware of the haste with which the process was carried out, however, we demand that this not happen again when the next primary process takes place, it is imperative that telephones are included, the same in the November elections ”added Corchado.
As part of the monitoring, Esterrich thanked the efforts of the college officials from both political parties.
An example of the situations observed during the monitoring occurred in the voting center of the San José Academy in Guaynabo, “there the PPD primary school had no accessibility, they loaned the rooms with steps and some on the second floor without allowing the use of the elevator, if However, officials made every effort to get voters with disabilities to vote. Definitely for the general elections this cannot happen, the voting centers have to be accessible, the CEE must select centers with easy access ”he indicated.
Esterrich invited voters with disabilities to report any accessibility problem In the process, “our recommendation is that if they wish to do so, they exercise their right to vote, the Program staff will be very vigilant and constantly monitoring during the second primary event.”
Any voter with a disability who experiences a problem during the electoral process you can contact us at 787-725-2333 or 787-523-8910 (deaf people) and ask about the PAVA Program, by email to [email protected][email protected]or the State Elections Commission at 787- 777-8682 or on the CEE page: www.ceepur.org .