Yesterday, the Puerto Rico State Elections Commission (CEE by its Spanish initials), held the electoral process to pick the delegates to lobby for the Commonwealth's annexation as a state in the U.S. Congress.
As reported, 88,930 voters participated in these elections, which will result with the appointments of four delegates in the U.S. House of Representatives and two in the Senate.
As of press time, former Gov. Ricardo Rosselló had the lead to the House with write-in votes, nearly two years after he became the first governor of Puerto Rico to step down after continuous protests demanding his resignation, following the release of a group chat between him and top members of his Cabinet at the time that many deemed to contain questionable language and admissions of government mishandling. With this projected win, he is slated to be the face of the pro-statehood movement, however.
Rosselló also received write-in votes to the Senate, but to a lesser extent.
The official preliminary results for the House delegates offered by the CEE at 10:00 p.m. yesterday places Elizabeth Torres, Roberto Lefranc Fortuño, María ‘Mayita’ Meléndez, and Adriel Yared Vélez in the lead. In this contest, 60,826 write-in votes were reported, which will be counted later this week.
According to the alternate elections commissioner for the pro-statehood New Progressive Party (NPP), Edwin Mundo, Rosselló was leading over Torres —an official candidate— by roughly 10,000 votes. Torres, in turn, is a conservative personality known for "La Premisa Inarticulada," a Facebook page where she shares her political views and lambasts postmodern ideologies, including local feminist circles.
Although the CEE did not offer the official numbers of the write-in votes yesterday, the NPP chose to carry out its count before the process begins on Wednesday, when the scrutiny for the official certification will be held.
The official numbers gave the Senate delegation victories to Melinda Romero and Zoraida Buxó. In the Senate, 14,644 write-in votes were reported in the results offered at 10:00 p.m.
Low Voter Turnout
Although "yes to Statehood" won with 655,505 votes in the political status referendum held alongside the general ballots last November, fewer than 108,000 people participated in Sunday's elections.
Gerardo Cruz Maldonado, electoral commissioner for the pro-Commonwealth Popular Democratic Party (PDP), opined the low voter turnout in the special election validated the community's claims that the event is a "waste of funds."
He said that less than three hours after the voting centers closed, a sample of 20 percent of the total Precincts (110), indicated that few people participated. “The sample is representative of the eight senatorial districts. This validates the position of the Popular Democratic Party that the special election is a waste of funds and a failure," Cruz said.
Cruz also denounced that several incidents occurred in the voting centers, including “the instruction by the New Progressive Party to all local commissioners to return the surplus unused ballots from the hospitals. This is against the Law and the Regulations of the Special Election."
Moreover, pro-independence Rep. Denis Márquez argued the low voter turnout in the special election shows that pro-statehood residents "rejected the electoral event."
"As we have mentioned on multiple occasions, today (yesterday) we had a political event of the [NPP] paid for with public funds. I heard earlier in the day from our electoral commissioner, really this has been a ridiculous election and I add that it is a survey of the NPP to select some political tourists with public funds," he told THE WEEKLY JOURNAL."
Meanwhile, Sen. Ana Irma Rivera Lassén, of the Citizen Victory Movement, opined that these elections shouldn't have been held. "It is money that is being spent and should not be spent, and because (the choice) is not going to lead anywhere," she contested.
Despite criticisms from officials and cybernauts who participated in the summer 2019 protests against his leadership, Rosselló said that he was thankful to have been supported.
"I am honored that my name has been submitted by direct nomination (write-in) to represent the people of Puerto Rico in Washington, DC. in the fight for equality. A few days ago, this was not in the picture. Thanks to the efforts of citizens with their own initiative and conviction, today there is the first successful direct nomination (write in) in the history of our island," he wrote on his Facebook page.
He indicated that "both the situation in Washington DC regarding statehood and the support of the people have moved me to accept this honor."
"I will work together with my fellow delegates, each of whom brings a unique perspective and a set of experiences that I believe will make us a highly effective team for the people of Puerto Rico. I hope, together with them, to develop and implement a cohesive and comprehensive agenda with the commitment and objective of achieving statehood for Puerto Rico," he added. "I want to thank the people of Puerto Rico for their support. Know that I will always seek the well-being of all Puerto Ricans."