SEC chairman has no due date for San Juan general vote count
By Pedro Correa Henry
Special to the Star
Thirty-five days after the 2020 general elections, San Juan still has no certified mayor-elect.
State Elections Commission (SEC) Chairman Francisco Rosado Colomer said Monday that the capital city’s general vote count remains without a due date as early voting tallies from Precincts 1, 3, 4 and 5 remain imbalanced and Absentee and Early Voting Administrative Board (JAVAA by its Spanish initials) managers “are receiving some final adjustments before uploading [results]” on Precinct 2.
“I was expecting it to be today, but I have to wait for the electoral officials; it is the officials who pick the tallies up and balance it out,” Rosado Colomer said. “Each party is supposed to appoint its officials, most of whom are volunteers except for the managers, because I can tell you that, of the five precincts in San Juan, only one was being worked on by the managers on Saturday, but volunteer party officials were [in charge of] the other four precincts.”
At Roberto Clemente Coliseum in Hato Rey, where electoral officers from all parties continued working on the general vote count, Rosado Colomer said the SEC has allocated nine new tables to continue working with early votes, and expected that, on Wednesday or Thursday, there would be nine more to speed up the general vote count.
“[San Juan Precinct 2] had already finished; I don’t know why I am not clear as to why the second party manager met with the OSIPE [the Spanish acronym for the Information System and Electronic Processing Office] director to readjust the precinct,” Rosado Colomer said. “I was trying to see why they hadn’t finished work since this morning; the managers indicated that they were having too many interruptions.”
As for the tally imbalance, the SEC chairman said that if the numbers did not add up, “we have to balance them and find where the miscue happened.”
“I have not been told a reason for this. It is a tedious job because they have to take seven tallies, eight tallies, nine tallies, and they have to go through them candidacy by candidacy, taking them to a summary that includes full votes, mixed votes, and votes by candidacy,” Rosado Colomer said. “You have a San Juan District 1 representative, and you have full votes, mixed votes and votes by candidacy, you have nine tallies that you have to take there [to the Tally Control Unit], and you have to do the same for the district senators, the at-large senators, mayors, and municipal legislators, and there tends to be a lot of error when you are tallying the numbers because the boxes are small.”
Meanwhile, he said that both OSIPE and the Electoral Operations Division were working on designing a new sheet to deal easily with the tallies.
As for the 6,229 envelopes that appeared on Friday in six sealed briefcases outside the Coliseum that each contained photocopies of various voters’ identifications, Rosado Colomer said he did not have an answer as to why no one had noticed that those envelopes were there, and confirmed that the matter is under investigation.
“There wasn’t a single ballot inside [any envelope],” he clarified. “The explanations for what happened vary [and could include] another failure by JAVAA to put them aside until someone had [brought them] in. We don’t know yet what happened to them; we are in the middle of the investigation.”
When a member of the press asked if there is a guarantee that the ballots of those voters have been handled correctly, Rosado Colomer responded that “it’s that or a federal crime.”
“All those envelopes were sent to the Commission, where the only ones who could have opened them were Commission personnel,” he said. “Otherwise, it would be a federal crime.
That’s like receiving mail at home, and a third party opens it; we have no doubt that those envelopes were received here, handled by party officials, and the ballots that were inside those [envelopes] were accounted for.”
At press time, with 92.96 percent of polling stations reported, Citizen Victory Movement San Juan mayoral candidate Manuel Natal Albelo was in first place with 41,027 votes in the general vote count, while New Progressive Party mayoral candidate Miguel Romero trailed with 39,664 votes.