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prima:An efficient electoral system is urgently needed

The disturbing performance of the State Elections Commission (CEE) during the primaries on Sunday, June 2 should be cause for alarm for the entire country, starting with the Executive, the Legislative and the directors of the electoral body, who must work with all haste, and with total transparency, to guarantee a foolproof process in the general elections, which are now less than four months away.

June 9, 2024 - 5:01 PM

Editorial El Nuevo Día. (GFR Media)

The disturbing performance of the State Elections Commission (CEE) during the primaries of Sunday, June 2 should be cause for alarm for the entire country, starting with the Executive, the Legislature and the directors of the electoral body, who must work with all haste, and with total transparency, to guarantee a foolproof process in the general elections, which are now less than four months away.

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Lee este artículo en español.

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The problems of the CEE, many of which had been warned by this newspaper, were numerous, very worrisome and, if not solved, would put an ugly stain on the foolproof confidence in its electoral system without which no democracy can survive.

The malfunctioning of the electronic canvassing machines, which included the very serious outcome that dozens of them reported results different from the real ones, with the consequence that a week after the event there is no certainty about some results, may be the most serious, but not the only flaw of last Sunday’s process. There were also problems with the handling of the avalanche of early votes and delays in updating the voter lists, with the Electronic Voters Registry, among other problems.

The interim president of the CEE, Judge Jessika Padilla, has tried to minimize the concerns or evade her responsibility by attributing the problems to others. She has looked out of control of the extraordinarily critical process, over which she has the responsibility not only to administer it properly, but also to do so in a framework of full transparency and one that gives society confidence that the outcome does, indeed, reflect its will.

These are very serious issues. There are no words that can capture in all their incalculable weight the importance to any society of a foolproof electoral system. In the midst of the immense institutional difficulties that Puerto Rico has been going through for decades, the CEE was, until recently, an oasis in the middle of the desert. Sadly, this is no longer the case.

We urge, therefore, every actor with a candle in this funeral to make the repair of our precious electoral system the highest and most urgent priority, in view of the general elections.

This includes the directors of the CEE, the collectivities, especially the New Progressive Party (NPP), which has the status of “main party” that it gave itself when it approved in 2020, without the consensus of other parties, the Electoral Code from which many of these problems stem. It also includes Governor Pedro Pierluisi, the Legislative Assembly and, of course, the Fiscal Oversight Board, which holds the key to the funds that may be needed to resolve some of these difficulties.

Time is short. More than two million voters are called to vote in less than four months. Understandings and agreements are indispensable as soon as possible, so that the CEE is provided with the technology and personnel it may need to carry out a smooth and, we insist, reliable process.

Part of the evaluation, of course, must be the desirability of appointing a new president of the CEE, which has not existed since the resignation of former judge Francisco Colomer almost a year ago. However, given the short time remaining until the elections, we urge that, if such an appointment is made, it should not be someone who comes to learn and that it should be a figure trusted by all parties and the rest of society.

We Puerto Ricans have seen, with horror, what can happen in societies where there is no confidence in the electoral bodies. That is a luxury that we cannot afford at this or any other time.

It is in the hands of those concerned to leave behind pettiness and opportunism and give the country, in the short time remaining until November, an efficient system that no one can doubt, as, by the way, we had not long ago. Puerto Rico deserves no less.

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This content was translated from Spanish to English using artificial intelligence and was reviewed by an editor before being published.

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