PR top court halts primary recount
The move came after the New Progressive Party petitioned the top court to take up the case, bypassing the lower courts.
The NPP is seeking to compel the State Elections Commission (SEC) to allow party officials to check voter signature rolls from polling stations to guard against “vote purging.”
The gubernatorial candidate from the rival Popular Democratic Party, Sen. Alejandro García Padilla, has charged that the NPP simply wants to see how many statehood party voters have jumped to the PDP.
State Elections Commission President Héctor Conty Pérez ordered the recount and vote tally last week, marking a first in the island’s political history, where such moves had been limited to general elections.
The NPP refused to seat its vote counters for the scheduled start of the tallying process Monday after the SEC refused to let party observers see voter signature rolls from the March 18 primary.
NPP Electoral Commissioner Iván Cabán said the NPP will not take part in the tallying until the lists are made available.
Conty said the law makes clear that each party’s voter rolls belong to that party, and are not open to other parties.
The SEC said last week it will for the first time in history recount thousands of votes cast during the island’s local primary last week following allegations of irregularities.
Conty said he ordered a recount after Puerto Rico’s two main parties accused each other of fraud and inflating the vote count.
Conty said the SEC is in charge of general elections but only serves as a facilitator for the island’s primary. He said both parties are responsible for the voting process but the commission can order a primary recount.
Thousands of Puerto Ricans cast their votes on March 18 to decide which candidates for mayors, senators and representatives would go on to the November general elections.
Conty said the recount stemmed from complaints lodged by both the PDP and NPP over alleged irregularities.
Because both main parties complained of irregularities in the ballot tallying, the SEC opted to initiate a recount “to put an end to the concerns once and for all,” Conty said.
Gov. Luis Fortuño, the president of the NPP, appointed six of the nine members of the Puerto Rico Supreme Court: Associate Justices Rafael Martínez Torres, Mildred Pabón Charneco, Erick Kolthoff Caraballo, Edgardo Rivera García, Roberto Feliberti Cintrón and Luis Estrella Martínez.
Chief Justice Federico Hernández Denton and Associate Justices Liana Fiol Matta and Annabelle Rodríguez were appointed by PDP governors.