PIP goes to court to fight ‘undemocratic’ SEC determination
Claims it locks out ‘representation of 441,046 voters’
By Pedro Correa Henry
Special to The Star
Following the resolution issued on Jan. 5 by State Election Commission (SEC) Chairman Francisco Rosado Colomer that would only grant active legitimization on an administrative level to political parties that obtained 25% of intact votes under their insignias in the Nov. 3 elections, Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) Secretary General Juan Dalmau Ramírez and Electoral Commissioner Roberto Iván Aponte Berríos announced Monday that the party has filed an appeal in San Juan Superior Court to reverse the determination.
“The SEC chairman, serving as a bodyguard for the weakened and underdeveloped two-party system in this general election, decided that the parties that met the registration criteria do not have the rights and powers to which we are entitled by law to have representation in the SEC,” Dalmau Ramírez said.
The former gubernatorial candidate said the appeal was filed because Rosado Colomer’s determination “denies legal rights and powers to the PIP, Citizen Victory Movement (CVM) and Dignity Project (DP), even though they have been registered” under the earlier Electoral Code, under which all of the parties would have fulfilled the requirements to retain their electoral franchise at the SEC.
Dalmau Rámírez also said the SEC’s determination is “a legally unreasonable act” because it attempts to exclude the pro-independence party, which obtained around 175,000 votes in the Nov. 3 elections.
He said the decision “is motivated by the desire to perpetuate a two-party system and by revenge against those of us who have been a voice of oversight, ignoring the petition made by our electoral commissioner on November 9, and the one that had the vote of all parties, except for the NPP [New Progressive Party].”
“This is an undemocratic act that leaves out of the electoral body the representation of 441,046 voters, who represent 34.33% of the voters [in the Nov. 3 elections],” Dalmau Ramírez declared.
Aponte Berríos, meanwhile, said he has always warned that the current Electoral Code, which was signed by then-Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced “weeks before primary elections and four months before the general elections,” would harm both the electoral process and the chance to maintain oversight by “concentrating the SEC’s control in the NPP.”
“Everyone saw the disaster of the primary process, the general elections, and the early vote, just as we all saw the disaster of the general vote count,” the PIP electoral commissioner said. “In all of these instances, the PIP’s and all of our officials’ role was to monitor and to point out the irregularities that were taking place. Now, as an act of revenge and a total [takeover of] the SEC, the chairman excludes the parties that represent oversight and seriousness in the electoral processes.”
According to the appeal filed by the PIP in Superior Court, “the SEC chairman resolved that the PIP, as a ‘State Party,’ does not have the right to have a ‘Proprietary Electoral Commissioner,’ but only the right to an ‘Additional Electoral Commissioner.’”
“These ‘additional commissioners’ have limited functions and diminished rights,” the appeal continues. “Furthermore, their participation is from June 1, 2023, and only when the Chairman deems it necessary.”
As for Rosado Colomer’s determination, Dalmau Ramírez said the SEC chairman has created a new classification for their party and others “that are inferior to what they would have been entitled to under previous and current law.”
This “watered-down” participation is the right of the new parties that will emerge from now on or those that would not have been registered in the previous elections, the PIP official said. Not only is it obvious that all parties retained the electoral franchise, but Rosado Colomer even recognized it in his resolution, Dalmau Ramírez noted.
“However, he is reluctant to grant the rights that accompany the electoral franchise,” the PIP secretary general said. “We are not going to allow that.”
For the appeal, the PIP leaders were represented by attorneys Carlos Gorrín Peralta, Jessica Martínez and Juan Mercado.