SEC chairman: General Scrutiny might begin Monday
Rosado Colomer says process is on hold until SEC determines how to abide by Superior Court decision
By Pedro Correa Henry
Special to The Star
State Elections Commission (SEC) Chairman Francisco Rosado Colomer said Thursday that the general scrutiny is on hold until Monday while the commission determines how to abide by San Juan Superior Court Judge Rebecca de León Ríos’ decision requiring the handing out of a list of voters who cast both early and absentee votes in the general elections.
The ruling was issued as a result of a mandamus filed by Citizen Victory Movement (CVM) Electoral Commissioner Olvin Valentín.
During a press conference at Roberto Clemente Coliseum in Hato Rey, Rosado Colomer said he first wanted to establish that de León Ríos was “induced to error.” In addition, he said that while he disagreed with the ruling, it did not mean he was not going to abide by it.
“Here, the process of added by-hand voting is being mixed with the ordinary ballot container scrutiny process,” Rosado Colomer said. “What was the discussion that took place during the hearing that led the judge to think and conclude that the added by-hand voting process applies to the opening of the briefcase [ballot container] in the ordinary procedure? I don’t know.”
The SEC chairman said that according to the ruling, every party electoral commissioner must be handed the aforementioned lists before any ballot container can be opened.
Moreover, Rosado Colomer said, the lists that the CVM electoral commissioner is requesting are “accessible.” He said that what the ruling requests is information that can be retrieved through depuration, which is a process that takes place in January or February.
“If the commission were to comply with the ruling, the [general] scrutiny would take longer than Jan. 2,” he said. “There is no way. If the table officials are going to have to search the lists to see where the one who is excluded appears, that takes some time apart.”
Meanwhile, Rosado Colomer said “there is no way that the lists can be printed in the time dictated by the judge’s sentence,” but later he told members of the press that the lists were being printed and “would be ready in three to four days.”
“There are six early voting modalities. Those lists are not in Excel. There are no ways to produce them. So, for example, the only thing we can think of is the lists where the voters signed. … [W]hen they go to look for their vote, there is a list with their photo and it is signed,” he said. “That list is never, and I want to emphasize, it is never provided when the [ballot] container is opened. Why did the judge conclude that? Because they [the petitioners] represented to the judge that the procedure was like this because there is a procedure called added by-hand voting that you have to look for on those lists.”
As to what’s next for the SEC, Rosado Colomer said “to print copies.” He also said he would not be going to court to ask for reconsideration if he is able to have the lists available on Monday.
By not complying with the ruling, the SEC chairman would be in contempt of court.
“I can explain the consequences of the ruling for the judge to reconsider or I can ask for an appeal or a motion for compliance with the order,” Rosado Colomer said. “All those avenues are open. What is going to be done has not yet been decided.”