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Violation of US Citizens Voting Rights

Military and other absentee votes will not be counted by Puerto Rico’s SEC

23 December 2004
Copyright © 2004. All rights reserved. 

José Luis Fernández: 787-525-5341

Rocío Vélez : 202-489-4088

On December 10th, 2004, the State Elections Commission (SEC) of Puerto Rico decided it would not count over 1,000 absentee ballots arriving within the time allowed by the Uniform Overseas Citizen Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA). The analysis is drawn from a November 29th SEC report. This notification came after receiving communication from the Absentee Vote Administrative Board on November 30th, complaining that absentee votes were not being counted. An administrative agreement of all state Electoral Commissioners shelved Federal law protecting and guaranteeing voting rights of all US citizens. This same Commission, in Federal Court, admitted to Judge Daniel Domínguez that they did not send the ballots 30 days before the elections, as required by the same act.

Given the lack of national political importance of the local election, no Federal Agency has effectively monitored the proceedings, thus establishing a different class of American citizens in Puerto Rico. The U.S. Attorney’s Office did appoint an attorney to review the process, but there has been no action in spite of repeated news stories on the failure of the local Elections Commission to protect the rights of absentee voters.

Some of the absentee voters are local soldiers serving in Afghanistan and Iraq. Not only are they deprived of voting for their Commander-in-Chief because of residence in Puerto Rico, but the local processes and the lassitude of Federal officials have allowed some of their votes to be discarded in spite of the statutes of the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Vote Act (UOCAVA).

  • The deadline for absentee voting in general was September 3rd, 2004, while absentee vote registration forms received after this day were processed for the position of resident commissioner, since it is the only federal elective position.
  • There was a substantial increase in global absentee voter registration, surpassing 39% compared to the year 2000. In the case of students, there was an increase of over 200% as well as an increase of over 17% of men and women in the military. Our website , detailed the eligibility requirements and the process for applying and voting via absentee ballot
  • Under the commonwealth of Puerto Rico Elections Commission law and in accordance to the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, any individual that was eligible to vote and properly submitted their application before the deadline had to receive their ballot by mail 30 days before the general election.
  • The Federal Court received evidence showing that a military person received his ballots on November 18th, postmarked November 15th, when the SEC affirmed under oath at the Federal Court that all remaining ballots were sent on October 27th — 30th.
  • The SEC’s administrative process violated citizen’s rights throughout the recent electoral process in violation of sections 102 and 103 of the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act of the Federal Assistance Program. Please, go to to read about UOCAVA.
  • The Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2005, clearly states on Section 568 that the Secretary of Defense should inform Congress about the absentee voting process involving military personnel and present any irregularities for immediate action. There have been no requests of information from the Defense Department.
  • Funds have been disbursed under the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) to assure voting rights. There has been no request for accountability.

Share this information with all groups and persons that intervene in preserving civil and voting rights of American citizens.


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