Gaius Publius: Puerto Rico Democratic Party Reduced Primary Votes to 8% of What Was Expected
By Gaius Publius, a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States and frequent contributor to DownWithTyranny, digby, Truthout, and Naked Capitalism. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius, Tumblr andFacebook. Originally published at at Down With Tyranny. GP article here
Just three facts and a video. You can add them up as easily as I can.
1. Puerto Rican officials expected 700,000 people to vote in the 2016 Democratic primary. Think Progress, from a much longerarticle:
[A]n estimated 700,000 Puerto Ricans will vote this Sunday[.]
That’s a lot of voters.
2. But the Democratic Party cut the number of polling places by two-thirds, from more than 1500 to less than 500. In addition, because there were two simultaneous elections — one for local officials and one for the presidential race — voters had to go to two separate locations if they wanted to cast both ballots. Then the Party cut the voting hours, the window of time during which any voting could be done.
A longer clip from the same Think Progress article (my emphasis):
In early May, Puerto Rico’s Democratic Party announced that more than 1,500 polling places would be available for the island’s June 5 Democratic primary. A few weeks later, they slashed that number to just over 430 — a reduction of more than two thirds.
In 2008, the island’s last competitive Democratic primary, there were more than 2,300 polling places.
Some are warning of long lines and voters left unable to access the ballot box, as an estimated 700,000 Puerto Ricans will vote this Sunday, and polling places will only be open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m..
Worse, many voters will have to visit two separate locations to cast ballots in the presidential primary and the local primaries held the same day. Voter turnout and engagement has for years been much higher on the island than in the 50 U.S. states, but these changes may present too heavy a burden for low-income residents who lack transportation options or who need to work.
Supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) are up in arms about the polling place reductions, calling it a “fix” and drawing parallels to Arizona’s disastrous primary. Arizona’s most populous county closed two-thirds of its polling locations ahead of its April primary, forcing some voters to wait in line more than six hours to cast a ballot.
They got the result they wanted….
3. The number of votes actually cast in the Democratic presidential primary totaled just over 60,000. If my math is correct, that about 8% of the expected total, or a voter suppression rate of 92%. Again, the Puerto Rico Democratic Party, all good loyal Democrats I’m sure, suppressed 92% of their own vote, by reducing voting locations and hours.
Why? You decide. My answer? Too much democracy for the “Democratic” Party.
Did Sanders Request Fewer Polling Places?
When this news came out, the Puerto Rico Democratic Party accused the Sanders campaign of having requested fewer polling places. Here’s what Sanders had to say about that (my emphasis):
Sanders Campaign Statement on Puerto Rico Polling Places
June 5, 2016
SAN DIEGO – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign issued the following statement Sunday on long lines at polling places in Puerto Rico’s Democratic Party presidential primary election:
“Some Puerto Rico Democratic officials are claiming that the Sanders campaign requested fewer polling places in today’s primary contest. That’s completely false. The opposite is true. In emails with the party, Sanders’ staff asked the party to maintain the 1,500 plus presidential primary locations promised by the Puerto Rico Democratic party in testimony before the DNC in April, when the party was asking to have its caucus changed to a primary. They cannot blame their shoddy running of the primary on our campaign. This is just one example of irregularities going on in Puerto Rico voting today. We are the campaign that has been fighting to increase voter participation.”
How corrupt is the current leadership, top to bottom, of many of the arms of the Democratic Party? Looks like “very” to me. The willingness to corrupt the process seems to exist at many of the state and county committees as well. (It’s not a conspiracy if you don’t have to tell the county committeewoman what to do, if she already knows, in other words, when and where to stick in the knife.)
How determined is the Democratic Party to commit seppuku on a national electoral stage? Same answer. Flying high on hubrisusually lead to a crash landing. Pride and a fall.
For more on the situation in Puerto Rico, check out this short video, made just before the election.
Looks like the Clinton-led Democratic Party isn’t even trying to hide this stuff any more. Looks like they don’t think they need to.