After recognizing the high cost of the State Elections Commission (CEE, Spanish acronym), yesterday the government of Ricardo Rosselló Nevares lined up with the Oversight Board, noting that the CEE requires changes in its operations and structure.
Christian Sobrino, representative of the governor before the Board, said that the EEC is not exempt from the need to adjust its operations and expenses according to the fiscal situation of Puerto Rico and the necessary resources for essential services in other components of the government.
"We all agree that the EEC has to change and dramatically reduce its costs and continue to ensure sustainable electoral processes," he added in written statements.
Sobrino's statements came after the Board´s president José B. Carrión sent Rosselló Nevares and legislative leaders a letter recommending the EEC to adjust its operations to the electoral cycle and to restructure its operation to achieve efficiency.
A few weeks ago, Rosselló Nevares anticipated to El Nuevo Día - without further details - that he will give way to a reform of the entire electoral system Meanwhile, Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz said that one of his priorities for this session will be to approve an electoral reform.
Meanwhile, CEE president Juan Ernesto Dávila Rivera said yesterday that he would join the electoral reform discussion, contrary to previous expression distancing himself from that issue.
He even said that the CEE has already begun a transformation, although he said that "there is still a lot to do".
He added in written statements that changes in the CEE have begun and that during this term, 35 Permanent Registration Boards (JIP, Spanish acronym) have been moved to public places.
In his letter, Carrión warned that the Board understands that the "structure of the CEE is highly bureaucratic and costly".
"While the CEE does essential work to bolster democracy by registering voters and managing the electoral process, the CEE’s current operations do not match the needs it serves or the fiscal reality of the island," says the two-page letter.
In addition, Carrión stressed that, given that elections take place every four years, the CEE should have a more active role the year before the general elections and reduce their operations "significantly" the remaining three years of an electoral cycle.
He stressed that this is the way electoral entities work in most U.S. jurisdictions.
He described the organizational structure of the CEE as "complex", with a president, three vice-presidents, among other officials, and with more than 85 JIPs throughout the island.
Popular Democratic Party and the Puerto Rican Independence Party electoral commissioners Miguel Ríos and María de Lourdes Santiago, respectively, repudiated the Board´s recommendations.
"What it means in Spanish is to leave the electoral structure in the hands of theparty in office. If there is no continuous representation of the other parties, then the EEC becomes an agency dominated by the party in office," said Santiago.
Norma Burgos, electoral commissioner of the New Progressive Party, was not available for an interview.