• The Star Staff

CVM goes to court to retain electoral franchise

Says SEC chairman’s resolution ‘limits equal participation of political parties’

By Pedro Correa Henry

Twitter: @PCorreaHenry

Special to The Star

In response to the resolution issued on Jan. 5 by State Elections Commission (SEC) Chairman Francisco Rosado Colomer that would grant active legitimization on an administrative level only to political parties that obtained 25% of intact votes under their insignias in the Nov. 3 elections, Citizen Victory Movement (CVM) Electoral Commissioner Olvin Valentín said Thursday he was filing a petition in San Juan Superior Court to reverse that determination and help the Puerto Rican Independence Party, the Dignity Project and the CVM retain their electoral franchises.

At the CVM’s office at SEC headquarters in Hato Rey, Valentín said that even though the current Electoral Code establishes new guidelines and requirements for registering parties with the SEC, Rosado Colomer filed a resolution stating that the new requirements would not apply to the minority parties because they registered under the repealed code.

However, this was not the case with regard to the political parties retaining their electoral franchise, Valentín added. Meanwhile, he said, the three minority parties would not have administrative representation in electoral events until the summer of 2023 if the resolution is not repealed.

“All of the parties that participated in the general elections are qualified to retain franchise in the SEC, but the resolution states a ruling that we consider undemocratic because it limits participation to only two parties in decision-making and full commission activities,” Valentín said.

“Those [parties] would only be the New Progressive Party [NPP] and the Popular Democratic Party [PDP],” he said. “The SEC is postponing and continuing the two-party system that has done so much damage to the country.”

On the other hand, Valentín said, if the resolution were to remain after the court rules on the CVM petition, according to Article 3.1 (c) of the 2020 Electoral Code, if fewer than three parties obtained more than 25% of intact votes, then the party or parties that acquired the most intact votes would join the commission as a “proprietary electoral commissioner.”

In that case, Valentín said, under the 2020 Electoral Code the CVM would be entitled to the third seat because it obtained around 13% of intact votes in the elections.

The CVM electoral commissioner said, however, that what’s more responsible is for every party to retain their electoral franchise because it is a constitutional right.

“The new Electoral Code would create a new category, which would be ‘additional electoral commissioners,’ which cannot participate in full commission activities and can only participate [in electoral activities] if they are invited,” he said.

When the STAR asked how many CVM voters would be without representation at the SEC because of the resolution, Valentín said around 179,000 supporters would not have equal representation.

“Not only does the resolution damage the infrastructure of political parties, not only does it leave them without an office, staff, and every resource to remain working correctly and keep oversight at the electoral process,” he said, “but particularly, now in 2021, when we are closing the general vote count for the 2020 elections, which were overrun with many irregularities, the parties that would lift their voice to call out every irregularity and inefficiency at the commission are denied a platform, as crucial as it is to give continuity to those investigations that are pending.”

Regarding the investigations, Valentín said the minority parties, which have remained vocal on anomalies at the SEC, will not be able to investigate “the excess of ballots in Unit 77 of JAVAA [the Spanish acronym for the Absentee and Early Voting Administrative Board], the investigations related to the ballot cases that were found outside the [Roberto Clemente] Coliseum, and a series of other processes such as the purification of the voters’ lists.”

“Trying to leave three of the political parties that together achieved the support of 30% of the voters out of the SEC is not correct,” Valentín said.