Friday, August 14, 2020

Puerto Rico Schedules Presidential Democratic Primary for July 12

By on May 22, 2020

After failed New York attempt to cancel its own, party official says

SAN JUAN – The chairman of the Democratic Party of Puerto Rico, Charles Rodríguez, announced that the Democratic Presidential Primary will be held in Puerto Rico on July 12.

Rodríguez made the announcement after meeting with the president of the Puerto Rico State Elections Commission, Juan E. Dávila-Rivera.

Although Puerto Rico cannot vote in the presidential elections, it does hold presidential primaries. The island has more delegates, 58, than 30 states and territories.

Puerto Rico had originally scheduled its Democratic primary for March 29, but the legislature postponed it until April 26 in response to concerns over the COVID-19 outbreak. After the government announced an extension of the lockdown and curfew beyond April 26, the primary was postponed for a second time. 

“The scheduled new date of July 12 was selected pursuant to the legislation that allows Rodríguez and the President of the [Elections Commission] to choose an alternate date if the COVID-19 emergency situation continued beyond the original April 26 date,” according to the news release. 

After Sen. Bernie Sanders suspended his campaign and endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden to be the Democratic presidential nominee, “Rodriguez made it clear that he preferred to avoid the primary and save much needed public funds to deal with the COVID-19 emergency and budgetary constraints, and instead adopt an alternate method for selecting delegates,” the release reads.

However, the party says Sanders insisted on participating in the primaries in Puerto Rico and other states to accumulate delegates he believes will enable him to advance his platform proposals at the Democratic National Convention.

“The New York state election board canceled the Democratic primary alleging that, with only one candidate active remaining in the race, there was no need for a primary. This decision was challenged in federal court and the court ordered the primary to be held as scheduled,” the release says, adding that in light of that “precedent, Rodriguez stated ‘we have no alternative but to comply with the law and schedule the primary.'”

The two ballots approved Feb. 8 with eight candidates remains unchanged. Each voter will receive two ballots: a presidential preference ballot and a district delegate selection ballot.

The DNC has stated that, under the rules governing the selection of delegates to the Democratic National Convention, any candidate who appears on the district level delegate ballot that obtains 15 percent or more of the votes will have the right to elect delegates.    

“Regardless of whether any of the eight Democratic presidential candidates has withdrawn, if that candidate receives 15 percent or more of the votes on the district delegate selection ballot, the vote is valid, and they may elect delegates at the district level,” the release says.

In the primary scheduled for July 12, seven of the eight senatorial districts will elect four delegates each, and one will elect five. In total, 33 delegates will be elected at the district level. The island has 51 pledged delegates and seven automatic delegates to the convention. 

“No later than two weeks after the primary, the Puerto Rico Democratic Party will hold its state convention where the remaining territory-wide delegates will be chosen,” the release concludes.

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