The Bernie Sanders presidential campaign, which doesn’t seem to have ever met anyone who wasn’t trying to rig the election against them, now stands accused of slashing the number of polling places for the Puerto Rico Democratic primary, from a planned 1,510 stations to only 432. On Sunday night, MSNBC’s Tony Dokoupil reported that National Committeewoman of the Democratic Party of Puerto Rico and Superdelegate Liza Ortiz claimed that the rduction in polling places came at the request of the Sanders campaign, which did not have enough volunteers to staff poll watchers at 1,500 stations:
Dokoupil later posted a full statement by Ortiz:
The quote is from Liza Ortiz, National Committeewoman of the Democratic Party of Puerto Rico: https://t.co/ciJ8GWfwWI
— tonydokoupil (@tonydokoupil) June 6, 2016
As reported by MSNBC, the lack of polling places contributed to long lines and a lengthier vote count.
The Sanders campaign was quick to forcefully deny the allegation in a statement:
“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.”
The Sanders campaign says it has emails to substantiate its position, but also cutting in their favor is the fact that there was no mention of the Sanders campaign’s alleged request when the reduction in polling places was originally announced, and Ortiz didn’t offer an explanation for why that fact would have been kept secret until now. At the time, Democratic officials chalked it up to an overall strain on resources, and actually argued in favor of the reduced number of polling places by comparing it to the Republican primary:
On Friday, El Nuevo Día, a Puerto Rican newspaper, reported that the number of polling places for the upcoming Democratic presidential primary had been reduced from 1,510 to 455. Roberto Prats, the leader of the Democratic party in Puerto Rico, explained that the decision came as a result of the large number of resources needed for administering several local elections scheduled for the same day. Speaking in Spanish, Prats said that the local elections created “an enormous competition for the election officials and all of the electoral apparatus.” Sanders’ supporters aren’t satisfied…
…It’s important to note, which Prats did on Friday, that the Democratic primary will still have about four times as many polling places as the Republican primary back in March.
In a late call, Hillary Clinton was declared the winner of the Puerto Rico primary.
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