Puerto Ricans Try Again to Vote

Some polling places for primary never opened a week ago
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 16, 2020 12:40 PM CDT
Puerto Ricans Try Again to Vote
An electoral official, right, tells a voter that the ballots haven't arrived at a voting center in Carolina, Puerto Rico, on Aug. 9.   (AP Photo/Danica Coto)

Thousands of Puerto Ricans on Sunday got a second chance to vote for the first time, a week after delayed and missing ballots marred the original primaries in a blow to the US territory's democracy. More than 60 of the island's 110 precincts opened following a US Supreme Court decision that stated a second round of voting would take place at centers that never opened on Aug. 9 or did not remain open the required eight hours. The opening of at least one voting center in the coastal town of Loíza was delayed by more than an hour, the AP reports, as dozens of voters grumbled about having to stand in the heat with face masks on. "We expected that there wouldn't be any problems," said a 68-year-old retiree, adding that some people left. "We're all frustrated." Officials from both parties said Sunday that no serious snags had been reported.

Officials have blamed the chaos of the Aug. 9 primaries on ballots arriving late to the elections commission and trucks laden with materials not leaving until the day of the primaries, when usually they depart one or two days before. The elections commission boss has said the ballots arrived late because of the pandemic, Tropical Storm Isaias and a last-minute request from both parties to print more of them. Once voting got underway Sunday, an elderly woman emerged after casting her ballot and yelled to those waiting, "Come on! Come on! Let's vote! Let's vote!" But not everyone could participate in the second round. The Supreme Court's ruling permanently left out voters like Eldy Correa, 67, who went to her voting center in the southwest town of Cabo Rojo three times last Sunday and desisted only to find out later that it opened late. "They took away our right to vote," she said.

(More Puerto Rico stories.)

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