Puerto Rico will write a new chapter in its history today. In this new chapter, voters as well as government and political institutions will show how strong or weak the electoral system that supports our governance is.
By participating in these primary elections -and with the strength of their votes- New Progressive Party and Popular Democratic Party voters who could not do so on the date set by law last Sunday will exercise their political power today. With their vote, they will seek to reaffirm a system of government that recognizes the right of citizens to decide who should represent them in public administration, which includes protecting our rights and the sound administration of public resources.
Today, the electoral system has to prove that it is up to this event of significant importance for our people.
Exercising the citizen power of the vote is a duty and a responsibility that entails respecting each vote and the results, based on the principle that honors the will of the majority.
Voting is so important that it is recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which in its Article 21 states: 1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives. 2) Everyone has the right to equal access to public service in his country. 3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.
In today´s extraordinary event, electors will cast a vote of confidence, not only in those they prefer to represent their party on the November 3 general elections but in the integrity of the electoral system itself despite the deficiencies that led to suspending the process last Sunday.
Those women and men who will serve at the voting centers today must custody the sacred integrity and confidentiality of each vote. They are the custodians of our democracy and the institutional stability of Puerto Rico. We trust that, as they have done in the past, they will remain strict in counting each vote to honor the voters' decisions.
Today, and as the conclusion of a flawed and painful process, political parties, particularly those participating in the primary election, must reflect on how far they have moved away from their responsibility to protect the principles and structures that are called upon to support Puerto Rican democracy. Protecting the vote is at the heart of that mission.
That analysis also falls to the State Elections Commission, and to those who passed legislation and gave way to the new legal framework that undermined a voting system that until last Sunday's primary had been a global model.
While it is true that democracy in Puerto Rico is imperfect, it is no less true that our society enjoys broad freedoms and rights that we are all called upon to protect.
It is essential to dispel the shadows that electoral inefficiency and selfishness have cast over our voting system to overcome any suspicions in the face of the November 3 general elections.
We trust that today’s primary will stand out for a healthy spirit of peace and respect. As in other challenging circumstances that we have won pushing together, these elections call voters and electoral institutions to write a new chapter in our history that confirms the democratic vocation of Puerto Ricans.