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prima:Attention to the decline of new voters in Puerto Rico

May 20, 2024 - 1:02 PM

Puerto Rico, on the eve of this year’s electoral processes, is registering a worrisome decline in the interest of young people eligible to vote, according to the tally of registration records. This obstacle also affects access to positions of power where their point of view is a contribution to the debate of ideas.

The failed attempts to modernize the outdated structure of the Puerto Rico State Commission of Elections (CEE) and the blindness of the traditional parties are the main causes of this apparent lack of interest on the part of the youth. We speak of apparent, because those same boys and girls vibrate and fight in dozens of noble causes. The last mile of that energy should be an elective office. The local experience has exponents, with lights and shadows, who started early in the public forum.

Let’s see where the policy is failing. The tone of the debate, of course, scares away even the most enthusiastic. Strident voices, repetitive speeches and opportunistic debates, which pick up volume in this election season, deepen the distrust of youth in institutions such as government and the Legislative Branch.

The new generations yearn to be heard, to have their identities and ways of seeing life respected. Local politics, where baby boomers proliferate, seems to have no interest in bridging the age gap. Just look at how they face the world of work. Most focus their talents on finding a healthy balance between productivity and quality of life. And, of course, they have made their interests eloquently visible: climate change, human rights and social justice.

Modernity intimidates old institutions and mobilizes new ones. One of the ways to connect with this promising group of voters is through social media. There is no better survey to see what they think than to dive into the threads of the platforms. It is possible, with wise eyes, to find light in those troubled channels that travel at the speed of light through our mobile devices.

At the end of 2023, the electoral roll counted 1.9 million voters. The drop, with respect to 2020, is 18.7 percent, when 2.36 million were registered. This record is even darker if we look at the abstention figure. In the last elections, 55 percent participated. This means that 1.3 million Puerto Ricans stayed home on election day. It should be remembered that Governor Pedro Pierluisi won his seat with 33.2% of the vote.

As of May 10, only 51,000 new voters had been registered. The total voting age population reached 150,000. Problems such as the early closing of the Permanent Registration Boards and the failures of the Electoral Registry (eRE) have conspired to aggravate this situation. One way to repair this decline, according to some political leaders, is to authorize the Temporary Registration Boards, correct the failures of the eRE, and enhance civic outreach activities in universities. There is also a need to extend the registration deadline to October 6, a month before the elections, but there are those who think this would bring other problems.

It is clear that the new generations represent an essential factor of change to sustain democracy. If the electoral registry continues to age, in a much higher proportion than the general population of the Island, the line at the polling places, now emptier, will advance as fast as the breakdown of the system that allows the election of the most qualified to lead the destinies of Puerto Rico.


Read this article in Spanish.


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


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