• The Star Staff

SEC headquarters ran smoothly in primary ‘round 2’

By Pedro Correa Henry

Twitter: @PCorreaHenry

Special to The Star

As the first unsuccessful attempt at the primary elections left many citizens unable to exercise their right to vote, the State Elections Commission (SEC) had a smoother run on its second take of the electoral event on Sunday as 1,309 voting colleges opened as they received all ballots and electoral items on time.

As the Puerto Rico Supreme Court ruled earlier Wednesday that primary elections had to continue on Sunday at voting places that did not receive ballots or did not have enough electoral items on Aug. 9, while votes that were cast on that date would be valid and would be counted once the process concluded, the SEC had a successful second run. Earlier in the day, Popular Democratic Party (PDP) Electoral Commissioner Lind Orlando Merle Feliciano told The Star at the SEC Information and Press Center that the primary elections’ second go-round was running better than the previous Sunday.

“We made a great quality check on materials that we had issues with throughout all the precincts in Puerto Rico,” Merle Feliciano said. “And I expect that people have had enough time to react [and vote].”

More than expecting winners, the PDP electoral commissioner expected that people were able to exercise their voting rights and that it would bring about a unified party after the event. Meanwhile, as for his future at the political party as he announced that he would tender his resignation after the primaries concluded, Merle Feliciano said he will wait until the PDP appoints its next president.

“I will never hide from any controversy. This position has to be at the disposition of the next president of the PDP, and I have honestly believed, since I began last year, that once the position [and its responsibilities] was done and they certify the next president, I have to resign and leave it to the discretion of the new president,” Merle Feliciano said. “That’s the way it is. There’s nothing bad about it; that’s the way it should be.”

Meanwhile, New Progressive Party (NPP) Electoral Commissioner María Dolores “Lolin” Santiago said the second phase of the primary elections proved that “we had everything we needed” to run an electoral event properly. Regarding her future at the political party as demands to resign have rained over the SEC president, Merle Feliciano, and herself after the Aug. 9 electoral debacle, she said it was at the discretion of current NPP President Thomas Rivera Schatz given that it is a “position of trust.”

“We have been explaining all week that each [appointed] president that arrives generally brings their staff and their commissioner, so I came to do a job for my party at a difficult time; in two months, we have erected the electoral structure, we accomplished coordination so the primary election would run, we have worked tirelessly for 10, 15 to 16, 24 and even 48 consecutive hours so the election would run,” Santiago said.

Meanwhile, NPP gubernatorial candidate/hopeful Pedro Pierluisi’s electoral coordinator, Edwin Mundo, said he expects the SEC to certify a clear winner and hoped there would be no backlogs that could delay the general elections, as the SEC president said that there weren’t enough funds to have the event on Nov. 3.

“There will be money, I’m sure that the [Financial Oversight and Management] Board will provide the necessary resources for the [general] elections,” Mundo said. “What matters is that the commission doesn’t delay and not wait to get every result; there are ballots that can be prepared as if there were no primary elections, where the final outcome is available to get those ballots ready, where three political parties have their candidates determined.”

When the Star asked what would be the NPP’s future if Pierluisi was chosen as the party’s gubernatorial candidate, Mundo said the party needed someone as prepared as the former resident commissioner to defend statehood.

“The NPP needs a candidate who can really defend statehood in Washington [D.C.],” he said before press time. “I believe the most prepared person is Pedro Pierluisi, and -- if the ‘penepés’ have the available resources -- [he is the one] who knows the people, has the contacts, and can speak directly with congresspeople and the federal government. Pedro Pierluisi must be chosen as he can do that job in Washington; he already did it as a resident commissioner, and he’s ready to do it again.”