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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

No movement on electoral code: House speaker

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rafael “Tatito” Hernández Montañez

By John McPhaul

After the incoming president of the Popular Democratic Party (PDP), Jesus Manuel Ortiz Gonzalez, announced that he asked that the approval of the draft electoral amendments be stopped, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rafael “Tatito” Hernández Montañez anticipated on Monday that it is highly possible that nothing will be approved on that matter.

“One of the first things I want to do this week is sit down and evaluate that project and see the best avenues of action,” Ortiz González said in a radio interview.

For his part, the House speaker said that in Monday’s session in the House the measure will not be addressed, because the Senate has not taken note of the non-concurrence with the amendments and has not appointed the members of the Conference Committee.

“The Senate is in session tomorrow. If the Senate wants to maintain any kind of opportunity that this can be addressed, it has to receive notification from the House and create its Conference Committee. With that, we have the measure alive, if that does not happen, the game is over. And if the game is over, the excuses are over and we have to deal with what we have. Whoever makes that decision, what he is saying is that he has no problem leaving the Code as it is,” Hernández Montañez said.

According to the House speaker, the New Progressive Party (NPP) does not have much interest in amending the Electoral Code, except for the matter of the chairmanship of the State Elections Commission.

Meanwhile, the legislative delegations of the Citizens Victory Movement (MVC) and the Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP), together with two independent legislators, expressed a firm rejection of the proposals to modify the Electoral Code.

“The text worked on in the Senate would worsen and aggravate the state of electoral law in Puerto Rico,” the legislators stated in a letter addressed to the Governor and the Legislative Presidents.

“The PNP-PPD alliance insists on stealing transparency from the electoral process and the rights of voters with a Code that was already demonstrated in November 2020 that it does not work,” said Senator María de Lourdes Santiago, PIP spokesperson in the Senate.

The proposed amendments have been criticized for various aspects, including an excessive concentration of power in the presidency of the State Election Commission (CEE), the lack of effective control mechanisms for early voting, and the lack of guarantees for independent candidates.

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