Bernie Sanders’ Interest in Adding Delegates Would Force Holding Primary
SAN JUAN – The president of the Democratic Party on the island, Charlie Rodríguez, said Friday that the most appropriate mechanisms are being considered to hold the presidential primaries in Puerto Rico in the summer because despite Sen. Bernie Sanders having withdrawn his candidacy, he wishes to remain on the ballot to accumulate delegates for the party’s National Convention.
“We were hopeful that with Senator (Bernie) Sanders’ announcement that he would suspend his campaign and then announce that he endorsed Joe Biden’s nomination, that there would be no need to hold the primary and that we could carry out an alternate selection mechanism of delegates,” Rodríguez said in a radio interview (NotiUno).
“However, when I contacted the official representative of Sanders in Puerto Rico, he communicated to me that the senator’s intention is to remain on the ballot and accumulate delegates for the Democratic National Convention, both in Puerto Rico and in other states where primaries have not been carried out. That obviously forces us—since (Sanders) has not formally withdrawn from the nomination and insists on participating in the primaries—to hold the primary in Puerto Rico,” he added.
According to Rodríguez, said process was scheduled for March 29 this year, but in light of the emergence of the coronavirus, it was postponed to April 26 through legislation that was signed by the governor, Wanda Vázquez Garced. Joint Resolution 20 also allows the party president and the president of the State Elections Commission (CEE by its Spanish acronym) to select another date if the health emergency continues. Thus, there will be no presidential primaries Sunday, April 26.
However, he explained that according to the Compulsory Presidential Primaries Act and the Regulations of the Democratic Party for the Selection of Delegates, the primary must be held.
“We have to comply because we abide by laws and regulations; the only date I see possible is to do it in the summer, at the end of June or the beginning of July, so that a primary can be held. Unfortunately, as in Puerto Rico, the approval of the Electoral Reform is still pending, which would allow the absentee vote category to be expanded so that anyone can request it and vote by mail, since we do not have that yet, we are forced to hold an in-person primary taking all the due precautions,” he explained.
He also said that the elections commission needs 30 to 45 days before an electoral event to prepare for it. This is currently not possible, given the government shutdown.
Lastly, he explained that Puerto Rico must choose 51 delegates, plus seven automatic delegates, which places the island 30th out of 57 delegations that will participate in the National Convention, making it a delegation that can exert great influence. There is a possibility that the convention may be held remotely, despite the fact that it was already postponed to Aug. 17.