Joe Biden (Agencia EFE)

Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden won the Democratic Party's presidential primary in Puerto Rico yesterday, an electoral event that was not a determining factor in the White House race.

Although by press time, Biden had 71.12 percent of the votes in Puerto Rico, it remained unknown how many of the 33 delegates at the Senate district level he will have for Puerto Rico.

According to preliminary numbers, 6,892 voters on the island participated in the primary. That figure represents only 7.7 percent of the 89,690 voters who went to the 2016 primary. Meanwhile, according to the State Elections Commission (SEC) official figures, voter turnout barely reached 0.17 percent.

"Biden is the big winner. But, in terms of the distribution of delegates, although we could anticipate that Biden will have the majority, probably both Bernie Sanders and Michael Bloomberg could be choosing delegates to the national convention," said yesterday the president of the Democratic Party in Puerto Rico, Charlie Rodríguez, during a press conference at the SEC.

"We will know that once the vote-counting -which begins Tuesday- is completed and I hope that by the end of this week we will have the delegates certified ( by SEC president Juan E. Dávila Rivera)," he added.

He explained that Puerto Rico brings 58 delegates to the Democratic Party convention, which will be held virtually on August 17. On July 26, the Puerto Rico Democratic Party will hold its state convention to choose 18 island level delegates, who will be selected by Biden - after winning the primary - from a list provided by Rodríguez. Those will join the 33 delegates chosen yesterday and seven other automatic delegates, Rodríguez said.

Puerto Rico Democratic state convention will be at the Ponce Fair Complex. "The important thing, for me, is that it was a process done in the right way," Rodríguez said, acknowledging, however, that turnout was low.

"It was due to a very particular situation that none of us controlled, which is the coronavirus pandemic," he said.

A total of 3,258 voters participated yesterday in the presidential primary; 3,377 had voted early, as well as 139 people who voted in the Permanent Registration Boards (JIP, Spanish acronym). Another 118 were added manually.

The new Electoral Code extended the early vote so that everyone who wanted to vote between Tuesday and Saturday would do so at a Permanent Registration Board.

Rodríguez said that although the mechanism of voting at the Permanent Registration Boards is very useful, some JIP officials allegedly complicated the process, which was promoted late. "That is regrettable," he said.

The ballot also included Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, and Amy Klobuchar appeared, former South Bend (Indiana) Mayor Peter Buttigieg, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, and billionaire Tom Steyer.

Although Sanders suspended his campaign on April 9, he insisted on continuing the presidential primary in Puerto Rico seeking to win delegates for the Democratic presidential convention. So far, according to Dávila Rivera, the primary election cost the Puerto Rican Treasury $713,000.

One of the first to vote yesterday morning was New Progressive Party (NPP) candidate for governor, Pedro Pierluisi. “Joe Biden is a proven leader. He was an excellent vice president for Barack Obama; a friend of Hispanic people, with a concrete record in that issue and he is going to favor public policies that are going to benefit the entire nation, including Puerto Rico,” Pierluisi said upon arriving at the Rafael M. De Labra School in Santurce where he voted.