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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Hearing on names of deceased in voter rosters set for Thursday

State Elections Commission Alternate Chairwoman Jessika Padilla Rivera

By The Star Staff

The island Court of First Instance will review on Thursday a request from the electoral commissioner of the Citizen Victory Movement (MVC), who is seeking documents on the number of deceased people appearing in electoral rosters.

The MVC said State Elections Commission (SEC) Alternate Chairwoman Jessika Padilla Rivera has denied access to crucial information on the demographic registry of deceased voters received by the SEC for their due exclusion from the Electoral Registry.

The issue has generated considerable concern on the island since it is estimated that more than 40,000 deceased people continue to appear in the electoral registry.

“Transparency and accuracy in the management of electoral records are fundamental to guarantee the integrity of the electoral process in Puerto Rico,” MVC Electoral Commissioner Lillian Aponte Dones said.

For these reasons, she said, on April 3, formal requests were made to the SEC to provide the information sought. The requests were approved by four of the five parties represented in the SEC, with the NPP being the only party opposed to the delivery of the information.

The data requested were an exact copy of the file downloaded from the Demographic Registry platform on the death report on the day of the request (April 3, 2024), a copy of reports (with the implementation of appropriate filters) on the pending cases to exclude, and an Excel table with the information on the deaths sent by the Demographic Registry (as previously shared in August 2020 by the SEC).

The request was made after the numbers provided to the electoral commissioners did not match the reports and statistics, and were constantly changing.

“To this day, the real number of deaths still in the Electoral Registry is unknown due to the lack of management by the responsible offices in the SEC,” Aponte Dones said. “The SEC chair’s refusal to provide this information prevents the thorough investigation necessary to understand and address the current challenges facing the commission in the death exclusion process.”

It is worth noting that other parties do have access to the requested information because they have employees who work with the documents, Aponte Dones added. She said the situation puts the MVC and its voters in a disadvantageous position, “preventing us from carrying out the oversight work that the Electoral Code delegates to us.”

“This disparity in access to information hinders the fairness of the electoral process and undermines public confidence in the impartiality of the SEC,” she said.

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