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Puerto Rico Supreme Court orders island's suspended primaries to resume Sunday

Syra Ortiz-Blanes, El Nuevo Herald on

Published in News & Features

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Puerto Rico's Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that the votes cast in Sunday's botched primary election are valid and will be counted. The island's highest court ordered the election to be continued this coming Sunday for precincts unable to cast their ballots or precincts that were not open for eight hours.

The results of the votes cast in the Aug. 9 primary will not be publicly known until the event concludes this weekend, the court decided.

"We hope that in the name of democracy, there are no more failures, inefficiencies, errors or delays. Any other result or deviation would be clearly unacceptable," the court said in a news release around 7 p.m.

The high court ruled on lawsuits from four of the five gubernatorial primary candidates and from a private citizen concerning Sunday's suspended local primaries. The high court consolidated and considered all the suits together.

The Elections Commission, CEE for its Spanish initials, suspended the Sunday primaries after voting had begun because the majority of electoral precincts had not received ballots and other materials.

A unanimous agreement between the island's main political parties and the CEE ordered that all precincts that had received voting materials were to allow voters to go ahead and cast ballots, but any precincts that had not begun voting by 1:45 p.m. had to shut down and send voters home.

 

The CEE also ordered ballot boxes to be sealed and turned off voting machines until Aug. 16, when electoral officials agreed to hold the primary for the precincts that did not vote. The electoral commission also banned making public any preliminary results from the Aug. 9 partial vote.

The defendants in the five lawsuits filed at the Supreme Court are the CEE; the New Progressive Party's electoral commissioner, Maria Dolores "Lolin" Santiago; and the Popular Democratic Party's electoral commissioner, Lind Merle Feliciano.

The lawsuits asked the court to decide how the primary problems should be resolved:

-- The lawsuits of the gubernatorial primary candidates Pedro Pierluisi of the NPP and Sen. Eduardo Bhatia of the PDP, which were merged before reaching the court, asked for the partial vote count from Sunday to be counted and made public.

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