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CEE votes against PDP in efforts to gain more seats in Senate

By on December 1, 2016

SAN JUAN — State Elections Commission (CEE by its Spanish acronym) President Liza García Vélez voted against the Popular Democratic Party’s (PDP) petition to grant three additional seats in the Senate once the Puerto Rico Constitution’s minorities law came into force after the New Progressive Party (NPP) obtained more than two thirds of the Senate’s 27 total members.

Liza Garcia, CEE President

Liza Garcia, State Elections Commission president (CB/File)

In her resolution, García Vélez maintained that due to the NPP two thirds majority in Senate, Section 7 of the Commonwealth’s Constitution is activated, which is why there must be additional senators until minority parties reach a total nine members.

Since the past elections resulted with four PDP senators, one from the Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP), and independent member José Vargas Vidot, the total is six; thus, three more senators are needed to complete a one third minority from the total 27 senators. In accordance with the Puerto Rico Constitution, three PDP senators were added, non-elected candidates in order of votes: José Nadal Power, Miguel Pereira and Cirilo Tirado.

The CEE argued that the PDP claimed that both Vargas Vidot and Juan Dalmau’s seats shouldn’t be considered minority seats under Puerto Rico’s Constitution, Section 7 Art. 3, because the former was elected as an independent senator, while Dalmau represents a party that wasn’t enrolled in the elections.

For her part, García Vélez said that “if independent candidates are excluded from the total 9 senators with a maximum number of minority legislators as the [PDP] expects, there is a possibility for results where the majority loses its two thirds.” This, because the NPP obtained 21 out of 27 seats, for a total 78%.

She also observed Section 7 doesn’t provide a clear and direct response to the problem because under the requesters’ approach, there would have to be “a solution that doesn’t lie merely in the constitutional text.”

The public official added that Vargas Vidot was favored by the electorate to occupy one of the Senate’s seats, despite not belonging to any political party.

This morning it was unknown whether the PDP would take the CEE’s decision to the courtrooms, since there are divided opinions regarding the Supreme Court’s course if it tackled the controversy.

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