Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Focus moves from early-vote count to state ballot

By on November 3, 2020

(Jaime Rivera/Cb)

SAN JUAN — While most voters are going through the regular Election Day process, a group of poll workers are gathered in the Roberto Clemente Coliseum to process the mail-in and early voting ballots.

The process faced several hiccups since it started last week, but the electoral commissioner for the Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP by its Spanish acronym), Roberto Iván Aponte, indicated that the process was running more smoothly Tuesday. 

However, it seems unlikely that the election officials will be able to finish processing the four ballots by day’s end, especially given the development that parties have had to move poll workers who were counting early votes to Election Day voting stations. 

“It’s working very well. In recent days, it has sped up, but I do not dare to predict that they can count 100 percent of the ballots. There are about 694,000 ballots and it is a lot of ballots. But today we are focusing on the state ballot. Our intention is to try to get closer to 100 percent to give these results starting at five in the afternoon,” Aponte said. 

Roberto Iván Aponte, electoral commissioner for the Puerto Rican Independence Party (Courtesy)

The so-called state ballot is the ticket made up of the gubernatorial candidate and the resident commissioner, which is a federal position. The other regular ballots are for legislative and municipal seats, but this election also has a yes-or-no plebiscite on whether Puerto Rico should be annexed as a state. 

Although not working at full speed, the early vote center has 110 counting tables and workers from all parties, which are the PIP, the New Progressive Party, the Popular Democratic Party, the Movimiento Victoria Ciudadana and Proyecto Dignidad. 

The PIP election commissioner also explained that aside from the volume of ballots—a direct result of expanded mail-in voting because of the pandemic—the poll workers are seeing issues with legislative ballots that are not properly filled. 

Aponte explained that this is happening because, when voting at home, “the person is not interacting with the [vote counting] machine. When you are at [the voting center], you interact with the machine and the machine tells you that you are marking too much or little, but at home that doesn’t happen.”

Despite some hiccups in early voting, the PIP commissioner was pleased with how the overall process was running. 

“It seems to me that many people are voting. That is very important and we hope that when it concludes at five in the afternoon that there will be no problem, but so far it is running well.”

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