PDP electoral commissioner points out possible double voting schemes in San Juan

By Pedro Correa Henry

Twitter: @PCorreaHenry

Special to the Star

In the midst of the general vote count, Popular Democratic Party (PDP) Electoral Commissioner Gerardo “Toñito” Cruz said Monday that there are 92 possible cases of double voting in San Juan Precincts 1 and 2.

“After completing all regular polling stations on the night of the elections, in San Juan Precincts 1 and 2, the total number of polling stations for each precinct was 98. In San Juan Precinct 1, 26 out of 98 voting centers had 43 voters who, even though they appeared on the excluded list, they authorized them to vote again in that station, while in San Juan Precinct 2, 25 out of 98 regular polling stations had 49 voters that voted again although they were on the excluded list,” Cruz said.

Cruz said he was uncertain about recording the cases as double votes as it remains unclear why the voters were excluded from voting in the Nov. 3 elections. Thus, he said, it was important that the State Elections Commission (SEC) investigate the cases to discourage such illicit activity.

“If there’s a pattern of fraudulently cast votes, the Commission can’t certify these things; they must broadcast and look at what measures will be taken so this doesn’t happen again,” he said.

The PDP electoral commissioner noted that the supposed procedure the SEC had to activate was to let the citizens in question cast their votes by hand because the exclusion could have been “a mistake by the Commission.”

He pointed out that the proportion of alleged double vote cases took place amid the record-breaking number of early vote requests, as around 230,000 requests were registered.

“I can’t say that every voter conducted double voting, but what I mean with this is that we have now 92 voters [who may have double voted] already, and this could become a pattern from here on out,” Cruz said. “I warned about it from the first day when the Precinct 1 ballot containers were opened right before the Superior Court ruling halted the general vote count; from 16 polling stations, there were nine that had this issue, [and] there’s a pattern now.”

“We can’t hide it under the rug,” he added. “This has to be exposed for the benefit of those who voted honestly.”

Meanwhile, Cruz said the Puerto Rico Supreme Court ruling that electoral officers had to get up from the vote count desks immediately with the early voters’ list in order to issue a complaint at the Balance Board “should not be the procedure” because it might slow down the general vote count even more and discourage parties from conducting investigations.

“My proposal is that the officers who are assigned at the vote count table that have the early voting lists on hand, who sometimes don’t have any other tasks assigned for a long time, should get the tallies to begin reviewing,” Cruz said. “There’s balance within the table; let’s not pretend that the officer must leave their table because, how much time would it take? We see that these are not isolated cases anymore. There are many more.”

He went on to say that as each vote counting table has representation from every political party and an infraction tally where every electoral officer can sign and authorize an alleged infraction, these can be handed to every electoral commissioner later in the day to prevent delaying the general vote count and continue investigations.

As for the San Juan general vote count, Cruz said it was expected to conclude today or Wednesday.

And regarding a double shift to hasten the general vote count, Cruz said “it was an idea that the SEC Chairman [Francisco Rosado Colomer] brought up during a meeting,” but there hasn’t been an official agreement.

Nonetheless, New Progressive Party Electoral Commissioner Héctor Joaquín Sánchez said the possibility of a double shift had not been discarded. However, he said, “we don’t want to obligate any party that, due to a double shift through a court order, [might withdraw] their representation.”

“We want them to have time to plan and conduct double shifts,” he said, noting to the press that a determination that was voted for during a meeting was to place four ballot containers at each vote count table.

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