García Vélez warned that, if the event’s June 11th date is maintained, the deadline to reproduce the ballots would be May 15. (horizontal-x3)
García Vélez warned that, if the event’s June 11th date is maintained, the deadline to reproduce the ballots would be May 15. (Archive / GFR Media)

Faced with the imminent changes to be made to the plebiscite resulting from the invalidation by the federal Department of Justice, the State Elections Commission (CEE, by its Spanish acronym) immediately suspended the printing of the ballots scheduled for tomorrow, and it will not be until they learn the scope of the amendments that it will determine whether the consultation continues to be viable for June 11.

The president of the CEE, Liza García Vélez, explained that the agenda called for the ballots to go into print tomorrow, but only those that would serve as the model to guide voters on the process.

“Foreseeing a better use of public funds, no ballot will be printed so as to wait for the amendments made by the Executive, which are to be submitted and approved next week. I have asked to have it stopped until we have the amendments with the steps to be followed by the commission,” said yesterday García Vélez to El Nuevo Día.

According to the work schedule, the official ballots to be used during the consultation would go to the printer by May 8. 

García Vélez warned that, if the event’s June 11th date is maintained, the deadline to reproduce the ballots would be May 15..

She stressed that the CEE is governed by the “Law for Immediate Decolonization of Puerto Rico” (Law 7-2017), which established the date for the plebiscite, and alerted she would have to wait for the amendments to the statute to determine whether they could meet that term, operationally speaking, as well as the vendors in charge of printing the ballots, and the electronic tallying machines that will be used during voting day.

“Naturally, we have to look a those amendments and do our work with the vendors to make sure and have them tell us whether they can, and what would be the best and worse case scenarios in delivering those materials,” highlighted the president of the CEE.

“Once we have the content of the amendments, we would then have to review it with the (electoral) commissioners, we’ll discuss it at the CEE as soon as possible to rework our schedule,” she emphasized.

Silence at Fortaleza

The secretary for Public Affairs at La Fortaleza, Ramón Rosario, yesterday reiterated that the date for the plebiscite remains as June 11. On Friday, he stated that the content of the amendments to be submitted “for the plebiscite to comply with that required by the federal Department of Justice” would soon be known.

Governor Ricardo Rosselló Nevares and his team of advisers yesterday continued analyzing the comments made by interim federal undersecretary of Justice, Dana Boente, in the letter he sent the governor on Thursday, invalidating the plebiscite, as passed into law, because of it having excluded the territorial status as a viable alternative.

Yennifer Álvarez, press secretary at La Fortaleza, said yesterday to this outlet that, until that evaluation is completed and the wording of the amendments is defined, the Executive will not issue any more statements on the matter.

On Thursday night, when Rosselló Nevares anticipated that he would submit the changes in an attempt to obtain federal approval from the federal government, Senate president, Thomas Rivera Schatz, said that that legislative body would approve them as early as this Tuesday. 

That date, however, remains uncertain, since there are no news as to when the Executive could submit the amendments’ bill. Álvarez limited himself to saying that it will be in “the coming days,” but could not specify whether, or if in fact, it will be on or before Tuesday. 

“I don’t know whether there will be enough time to file it on Monday for debates on Tuesday. It’s possible. The governor’s intent is for it to be so,” said the press secretary of the Executive Mansion.

Changes in design

The inclusion of the current Free Associated State (ELA, by its Spanish acronym) formula will not be the only amendment to be legislated on, because that change will trigger a series of adjustments to the ballot, according to the president of the CEE.

García Vélez said that to add the ELA as status option will result in the redesign of the ballot, and that will imply revising the amount of text as well the font type and size of the definition of each alternative to try and make it legible. 

Any last minute changes, could even, entail adjustments such as placing instructions on the back of the electoral ballot to maximize the space on the area where voters would make their mark.

“Sometimes, by having too much content, the font size ends up smaller, and we try to make it as legible as possible,” said García Vélez.

She highlighted that on Friday she spoke with Secretary of State, Luis G. Rivera Marín, and with Rosario, and put them abreast of the changes that will have to be made to the ballot.

She added that this week she will meet with Rivera Marín to follow-up on those details.

“For the time being, we are all waiting in order to execute,” noted García Vélez.

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