Puerto Rico Nears Completion of ‘Special’ Ballot-Boxes Count
Nine additional uncounted boxes found and left to tally
SAN JUAN — Although the Puerto Rico State Elections Commission (CEE by its Spanish initials) had hoped last week that the official canvass of final election results, or General Scrutiny, would already be underway, dozens of ballot cases that were left uncounted by the end of the preliminary “Night of the Event” vote count, delayed the process.
CEE Scrutiny Director Ferdinand Ocasio Vélez said the tally of those additional ballot boxes would be completed by early Thursday.
When conducting an inventory to finish the early-vote tabulation, the Administrative Board of Absentee and Early Voting (JAVAA by its Spanish acronym) announced that more than 180 ballot boxes remained locked away in the Roberto Clemente Coliseum, where the vote-counting was taking place. The ballots in those boxes were consolidated into 125 boxes, one for each of the 110 precincts, with some precincts needing two boxes.
By late afternoon Wednesday, all 125 boxes had either been processed or were already at tables being counted, but Ocasio indicated that, in addition to those boxes, JAVAA workers delivered nine other boxes on Tuesday evening. The canvass director explained that the election commissioners decided not to combine those nine boxes with the 125 that had already been organized.
“Yesterday, while those  ballot cases were being worked on, the JAVAA mail board brought in additional cases. This morning, with the floor directors of all the parties in agreement, it was decided that instead of transferring the ballots to the ballot cases that were already going to be worked on during the day, new ballot cases should be set up,” Ocasio said, adding that one of those boxes was from direct mailed-in votes and the other eight were from the regional CEE offices, which could include votes from different categories.
While there has not been much controversy once the election workers started counting the votes, Olvin Valentín, the election commissioner from Movimiento Victoria Ciudadana (MVC, or Citizens’ Victory Movement) raised concerns about the validation process for those boxes. Valentín indicated that although he had misgivings about the development, he ultimately accepted some control measures.
“We certainly continue to be concerned because if there are no clear answers to the questions that we have about the origin of those ballot cases, then that doubt remains. We continue the process because we simply will not, not be here. Anyway, votes are being counted so we have that responsibility to be there,” Valentín said.
The MVC commissioner explained that the party’s election workers are instructed to leave any objections they may have on the record and that these nine new boxes are not going to get mixed with the others, in case of any related investigation or process.