CVM calls for ‘clear and precise’ strategies for general elections
By Pedro Correa Henry
Special to The Star
As Puerto Rico remained in suspended animation Tuesday waiting to learn when the primary elections will conclude, the Citizen Victory Movement (CVM) called on the State Elections Commission (SEC) and its chairman, Juan Dávila Rivera, to map out in detail how the commission will ensure the success of general elections on Nov. 3.
In front of SEC headquarters in Hato Rey, CVM President Ana Irma Rivera Lassén and the party’s electoral commissioner, Olvin Valentín, spoke to the press as they raised concerns about the future electoral event given that both the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) and New Progressive Party (NPP) have paralyzed ongoing preparations for the November vote following the postponement of Sunday’s party primaries due to a ballot shortage.
“This has been a drill for a possible disaster at the general elections. What happened last week should get every citizen’s attention, as has been [the case],” Rivera Lassén said. “The greatest concern has been that this [event] could represent and make people lose more faith toward [public] institutions and other electoral events, which is a way to discourage people from registering to vote, and [could] make the general elections suffer great consequences.”
Rivera Lassén said further that the growing disdain for the electoral process that began Aug. 2 is a violation of the voter’s right to vote equally. She said such indifference would keep voters from learning which candidates to vote for or against, and as a solution she proposes ending longstanding PDP and NPP partisanship.
“The disaster from both the PDP and the NPP is practically a coup d’état against electoral procedures in Puerto Rico, even if they are just two of the parties [involved],” said the attorney and at-large Senate candidate. “This works like a chain: if we still end up not knowing the people who will be on the ballots from both parties, the following chain of events won’t begin as the SEC has to print the ballots for the general elections, where not only two, but five parties and independent candidates are participating. All of this has been seized.”
When a member of the press asked about the recent Electoral Code proposed by Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz and Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced without any press conference, Rivera Lassen noted that, apart from being one of the first people to speak against it, she warned earlier that the code would bring “detrimental consequences.”
“I heard the SEC chairman saying that the Electoral Code had nothing to do with the failures of the primary elections, but it did,” she said. “That code placed immense power [in the hands of] a person who has been incapable of performing.”
As for other solutions, the CVM president said a change in government was necessary; however, some issues could remain unsolved because “irreparable harm” has been done.
“What can be repaired is for Puerto Ricans to have control in their hands and demand that not only the PDP and NPP, but also the SEC, guarantee that we are going to vote in the elections with everything that is necessary so people can exercise their right to vote freely,” she said.
Valentín said meanwhile that even though the CVM is not participating in the primary elections, as an observer and citizen he felt indignation and shame over what happened on Sunday. He described the SEC’s performance as “great incompetence” and insisted that people should go out and vote when asked by the Star what citizens should do when they’ve lost trust in their right to vote after such a chaotic electoral event.
“The people have to see the dynamics that have taken place, make their decisions and go out to vote,” Valentín said. “For that, as a movement, we developed a campaign called Defend Your Vote, where we will advise and recruit Puerto Ricans who are concerned about this process and wish to be part of a [solution] while helping as electoral officials.”
At press time, Rivera Lassén said the CVM agreed that the SEC chairman should resign, while it was up to both the PDP and NPP whether to keep their electoral commissioners if “they represent their parties adequately yet knew that the primary elections were not ready and subjected Puerto Rico to such humiliation.”