Puerto Rico’s Election Commission said Tuesday it discovered more than 100 bags containing countless votes a week after the US territory held the general election, drawing criticism and contempt from voters who now question the validity of the results of some races.
Francisco Rosado, the new chair of the commission, said the bags were found in a secured basement and blamed the situation on what he said was an underfunded and staffed board responsible for counting a record number of absentees and early votes.
“We have determined, unfortunately, a lack of regulation in dealing with the items in the safes,” he said at a press conference. “Misplaced. Bad organization. We have to admit it. “
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Rosado said that he does not yet know the number of votes in the 126 bags, noting that some contain three ballot papers, while others contain 500 ballot papers. Officials initially said there were 182 bags, but they revised the number at a later time.
He said, “Every vote will be counted.” “I must tell the people of Puerto Rico to have confidence in the transparency of the process.”
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The find is the latest erroneous move by the commission that so badly messed up the island’s August primaries that a second round of voting was held, an unprecedented situation that led to the former commissioner’s resignation a month later. Then the committee was criticized for having set a record four days after the general election on the 3rd of November to end almost all vote counting, and announced on Tuesday that it had discovered more bags. Traditionally, the commission issues the final vote count on election night.
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Roberto Evan Apunte, Electoral Commissioner for Puerto Rico’s Independence Party, said in a phone interview that he expects all votes inside the newly discovered bags to be counted by Thursday at the latest. He said these sounds could influence races such as the race for the Mayor of Culebra, a popular tourist island in eastern Puerto Rico. The elected mayor won only two votes, according to preliminary results.
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Aponte and other officials blame the ongoing troubles on a new law that Governor Wanda Vásquez approved in June just two months before the primaries that led to several changes including easing restrictions on absentees, early voting and abolishing top administrations and positions within the country. Election Commission, which led to the departure of old officials. This year, Puerto Rico received more than 220,000 absentee and early votes, a record for officials overshadowed by paperwork.
Aponte cautioned that the commission’s ongoing troubles are raising suspicion among voters.
“After these elections, there must be a serious evaluation of how to deal with these votes,” he said, referring to absentee and early voting.
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