The chaotic gubernatorial primary that was partially suspended over the weekend must be resumed next Sunday, Puerto Rico’s Supreme Court said Wednesday night in a highly anticipated ruling.
“The primary process will remain suspended until it resumes on Sunday,” according to a news release announcing the ruling. The court also determined that the votes by those who were able to cast their ballots this past weekend “are valid and will not be annulled.”
The Puerto Rico Supreme Court also prohibited the release of any kind of preliminary or official results until Sunday’s makeup primary takes place.
The decision comes three days after thousands of Puerto Rican voters like Carmen Damaris Quiñones Torres were unable to vote in a primary election last Sunday after the island’s Elections Commission suspended it because it failed to deliver ballots to all polling centers in time for election day.
In a lawsuit Quiñones Torres filed against the Elections Commission with the help of Puerto Rico’s ACLU chapter, she said she was on her way to vote Sunday when she found out her polling place had closed down early because it never received any ballots. Some polling centers received ballots hours after voting was scheduled to start and others ran out of ballots halfway through the primary.
These scenes were replayed across hundreds of polling centers on the island, depriving countless Puerto Ricans from their right to vote.
The shoddy primary process triggered a flurry of lawsuits from the candidates on primary ballots — including one from Gov. Wanda Vázquez, who is unelected after taking office last year when then-Gov. Ricardo Rosselló resigned amid mass protests responding to a political scandal. Her primary opponent, Pedro Pierluisi, who like Vázquez is from the pro-statehood New Progressive Party, is suing and so are opposition party candidates Eduardo Bhatia and Carlos Delgado.
The decision from Puerto Rico’s Supreme Court responds to all lawsuits, saying voting can only be resumed in polling places “that did not receive election materials or those that received them, but did not start the voting process.” Polls that did not remain open for eight hours, as established by Puerto Rico’s electoral code, will also be able resume voting procedures Sunday.