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SEC To Count Remaining Ballots In Governors Race
Election results dramatically favor the NPP in legislative and municipal races
By PROVIANA COLON DIAZ
November 11, 2004
The votes that remained to be tallied when State Elections Commission (SEC) President Aurelio Gracia preliminarily certified Popular Democratic Party (PDP) gubernatorial candidate Anibal Acevedo Vila as the winner of last weeks general elections, giving him a 0.2% lead, began to be counted Monday morning. It will determine if a recount, as mandated by law, will in fact be required.
New Progressive Party (NPP) Electoral Commissioner Thomas Rivera Schatz objected to the decision not to commence the vote-by-vote recount before tallying the uncounted votes. He argued the SEC rules & regulations state that the procedures should be carried out simultaneously.
Gracia, a former judge, argued the electoral law conflicts with the SECs own rules & regulations; in such cases, the law should prevail. If the uncounted votes give either candidate a lead of more than 0.5%, a general recount wont be called.
In a recount, all ballots are counted one by one.
Rivera Schatz immediately announced the NPP would contest Gracias decision in federal court.
Still, Rivera Schatz and NPP followers who will handle the recount agreed to begin counting the votes, arguing it will show the NPP candidate, former Gov. Pedro Rossello, was the winner.
PDP Electoral Commissioner Gerardo Cruz opposed a simultaneous tally, in the hopes that the remaining 30,000 ballots would give an advantage to Acevedo Vila.
With 98.3% of the electoral units accounted for, Acevedo Vila is leading the gubernatorial race with 953,459 votes, or 48.38% of the votes; Rossello has 949,579 votes, or 48.18%. Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) President Ruben Berrios has 52,660 votes, or 2.7%.
If Acevedo Vila prevails, it will be the first time in the history of Puerto Rico that the governor and the resident commissioner belong to different parties.
With 947,098 votes, or 48.52% of the votes, Rossellos ballot partner NPP candidate Luis Fortuño was elected over Acevedo Vilas ballot partner Roberto Prats, who received 937,572 votes, or 48.05%. He conceded defeat the day after the elections.
Fortuño, a Republican, believes Rossello ultimately will be certified as governor after the recount, but has openly expressed his disposition to cooperate with Acevedo Vila to improve Puerto Rico despite their differing ideologies. Acevedo Vila is a Democrat.
An NPP Legislature
Meanwhile, the results of the legislative and municipal races have all been accounted for. NPP legislators and mayors were overwhelmingly favored.
The results from the legislative race were so crushing that the leading posts for both the majority and the minorities have already been selected.
Many agree that Acevedo Vilas greatest challenge lies in the Legislature, whose leaders have already announced their intention to impose the NPPs public policy as outlined in its platform.
It was clear that voters were displeased with the current PDP Legislature as most incumbent lawmakers lost their races.
According to the SECs official website, a recount is still pending in the Senate districts of Mayaguez, Humacao, and Guayama.
The NPP, meanwhile, was able to recover the districts of Arecibo, San Juan, and Carolina, which were lost in the general elections of 2000.
As of Monday, the Senate had a dozen NPP district senators, four PDP district senators, six NPP senators-at large, four PDP senators-at-large, and one PIP senator-at-large.
The NPP has 66.67% of the Senate seats; the PDP has 29.63%; and the PIP, 3.7%.
Similar results were seen in the House of Representatives, where the NPP controls 62.75% of the seats; the PDP, 35.29%; and the PIP, 1.96%
The House of Representatives has 26 NPP district representatives and six representatives-at-large; the PDP has 14 district representatives and four representatives-at-large; The PIP has one representative-at-large.
A recount is still pending for District 38.
Although municipal results were more evenly spread out than the legislative results, the NPP did manage to win municipalities considered PDP strongholds such as Vega Baja, and Lares.
The NPP won 45 municipalities, and the PDP won 33, the exact opposite of the results in 2000.
The PIPs electoral registration
Amid much debate over the need for a new party to represent supporters of independence, the PIP has been working out the details to re-register the party after it failed to obtain the minimum 3% required to retain its registration.
To re-register the party, it needs to collect 100,000 endorsements. PIP Electoral Commissioner Juan Dalmau doesnt anticipate any complications in the process.
This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.