Puerto Rico Primary: Is Election Fraud Happening?

FOWLER, IN - MAY 03: Voters cast their ballots at a polling place on May 3, 2016 in Fowler, Indiana. Indiana residents are voting today to decide Republican and Democratic presidential nominees. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Voters cast their ballots at a polling place on May 3, 2016 in Fowler, Indiana. Meanwhile, it looks like voting in Puerto Rico won’t be so easy, with 2/3 of their polling locations closed for the presidential primary. (Getty)

The presidential primary in Puerto Rico is today, but concerns about election fraud have been growing for days already. Bernie Sanders campaign officials and supporters are worried that a series of problems, ranging from drastically reduced polling stations to poll workers who can’t get certified, might be signs of voter suppression or election fraud. Some of these problems wouldn’t just hurt Sanders supporters, but could reduce everyone’s access to voting during the primary. What exactly is happening? And is it some form of fraud or voter suppression, or just a series of poor management decisions?

Here’s what you need to know.

Polling Stations in Puerto Rico Were Reduced from 1,510 to 432

In a decision that is disturbingly reminiscent of problems seen in Arizona, polling locations in Puerto Rico were reduced from 1,510 to 432. On May 5, the Democratic Party announced there would be 1,510 polling places, according to Caribbean Business. The drastically reduced number was announced on May 27, with the remaining locations being open only for local voting and not the presidential primary. You can read a discussion about the whole thing on this Reddit thread.

In contrast, according to a press release by Grassroots for Bernie volunteers, the 2008 Democratic primary in Puerto Rico had 2,306 polling places serving 384,758 voters. There will only be 432 for the 2016 primary.

This is especially a problem because polling hours are only from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. local time. This could lead to long lines or some voters even being turned away, like they were in Arizona. This ended up happening. Some locations reported long lines and even some people passing out from standing in line in the heat for so long.

In Arizona, similar drastic reductions became such a huge issue that people ended up waiting in line for hours and hours just to vote, with some not able to vote until late into the night. (Read more about Arizona’s problems here.)

The decrease in polling stations could turn a primary that was expected to have 600,000 voters participating into one with just 300,000 voters, Caribbean Business reported. On Reddit, one person suggested the problem was that they didn’t have enough poll workers and ballots have to be counted manually. However, this doesn’t make much sense, considering that in 2008 they were able to handle 2,306 polling places.

Polling stations in Puerto Rico where people can vote in the presidential primary are listed at this link. A search engine to find out where to vote is here.

Sanders Poll Workers Are Having Trouble Getting Certified

Members of Sanders’ team began accusing the local Democratic Party of fraud the day before the primary started, Caribbean Business reported. (You can hear more about the polling location and certification problems in the video above.)

The problems began when prison inmates were voting and workers faced strange “irregularities.” The Bernie Sanders officials could never get certified, said Betsy Franceschini, Sanders’ Hispanic vote director. She said they submitted all their officials in time, but none were certified while all of Clinton’s were:

Our Bernie Sanders officials were never certified. We had 40 officials we submitted in time for the prisons. Not one of them was certified, while all of theirs (Clinton’s) went in. Attorney Manny Suárez had to go in order for us to be let in. This is a great fraud.”

Roberto Prats, the president of Puerto Rico’s Democratic Party, denied the allegations, Caribbean Business reported. He said they were investigating one of Franceschini’s poll workers. He insisted that Sanders officials were at the prison voting locations. But Sanders’ campaign said the certifications weren’t delivered and officials had to go to the prisons to put some pressure on officials.

If certification problems continue during the primary, this would mean that non-certified poll workers would be able to observe, but can’t contest or make complaints.

Kurt Hackbarth, who made the video posted above, told Heavy:

With up to 400,000 people shut out of voting in (today’s) Democratic primary, two-thirds of polls closed a week before the primary, and the unpardonable delay in certifying Sanders’ poll workers, tomorrow’s primary is shaping up to be the worst case of voter suppression in this entire primary cycle.”

While Sanders poll workers couldn’t get certified on Saturday, it appeared that Puerto Rico Democrats may have still been recruiting Clinton poll workers at the same time:

Kenneth D. McClintock is the National Committeeman for the Puerto Rico Democratic Party.

The translation of his tweet roughly means: “If you want Puerto Rico to have the great honor, 1.) Find your closest Democratic polling place; 2.) Go out and vote for Hillary Clinton and … sign up tonight to be an observer or poll worker. Get in touch with me by DM or messenger on my Facebook page.”

In previous tweets, he retweeted statuses from other people saying that Sanders had never done anything for Puerto Rico, had no chance of winning the nomination, and others shouldn’t be fooled by his “siren song.”

It’s unclear what rules, if any, there are regarding DNC committeemen advocating one candidate over another.

Also on Saturday, a local Puerto Rican newspaper called Primera Hora published an article pointing to additional potential issues with the primary. Hackbarth sent Heavy a translation of the Spanish-language article, which said that the Puerto Rican Bernie Sanders Committee was going to submit a complaint to the FBI accusing certain inmates of being pressured to vote for Clinton. The complaint will also allege that early voting took place in some locations without proper notice, attorney Manny Suarez said in the article.

At this point, it’s unclear how all of this will affect the ultimate result of the primaries or what can or will be done to fix the issues. Whether the problem is purposeful or simply neglectful or a sign of mismanagement is still being looked into. But if polling problems get as bad as were seen in Arizona and other states, there might be extensive election hearings and lawsuits in Puerto Rico’s future.

Election Fraud: Why Are Voter Registrations Changing?

Voters in closed primaries like California are seeing odd changes to their party registration. One group's suing for election fraud in NY. Are you affected?

Click here to read more

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      • You don’t know very much about Bernie Sanders. And you clearly have not even tried to learn. No he is not planning to run as “3rd party spoiler”.

      • Sore Loser! NO, he’s an honest, honorable man who knows, as do those in states, most of them, where election malfeasance IS happening, that the tentacles of the Clinton/DNC/corrupt machine are making us ALL less safe by manipulating everything from caucus rules to polling locations/hours to poll training to media coverage, or lack of, regarding these undemocratic behaviors… Sore loser? He’s WON many states by huge margins and VERY possibly would have won NY, Arizona, Nevada, and we’ll see about CA and PR. That as an American tax payer for 45 years, I can NOT trust my own government to ensure votes and the process is honest, is diabolic!!!! Sickening!!!! US operates under a mask of morality but remove that mask and reveal the dark underbelly of just another imperial power built off theft, greed, fake religious practices, and NO moral code, even to protect its own children from disease and environmental damage. No other species conducts itself in ways that sicken, poison, threaten their own survival like humans and in the US, honesty from ONE candidate alone, is met with sharpened knives just waiting to cut the head off a movement that IS exposing the disease American politics has turned into. Sore Loser my ass. He’s the most honorable, decent, hard working and just candidate running against the hydra of corruption!

        • You go Laura! Well said. When I read about the voter disenfranchisement in PR, I literally got sick to my stomach. And then they tried to pin that on Sanders. Comes from the “Twist the Truth to Confuse People” school of thought the Clintons propagate.

          Love these statements: “Sore Loser my ass. He’s the most honorable, decent, hard working and just candidate running against the hydra of corruption!”

    • Number of voters expected to increase, so the Democratic cut polling places by 2/3rds. Those facts are not in dispute.

      Looks like cuts in Democracy is the first step

    • When voter “turnout” is low, clinton wins. Hence her 300 person rallies vs sanders 15000 person rallies. If we were to vote by rally, he would have crushed her overwhelmingly.

    • That was dumb. He has won in plenty of places. Funny how you are not very concerned about how many voters didn’t get to vote in Puerto Rico.

    • be careful; the same reasoning hillary is using to win (the less people that vote, the more likely she is to win) is the same thing republicans will be pulling in the General Election.

    • I need a head expansion,to say the least, we need Bill to give us a big party,he can get the drugs and the woman,who put out or should I say suck, at what they do lol

  1. The reason polling stations were reduced is because the island is in severe economic hardship. They keep talking about bankruptcy any day now. If you ask literally any Puerto Rican official working on this, they’ll tell you that.

    Did you do any investigating here? Because I don’t see any discussion of the major economic problems Puerto Rico is experiencing in this piece, which are basically the answer to every question you posed.

    There were meetings in April, the election commission has been trying to put money together for this as much as they can, but running this election is going to cost 3 million dollars and let me just check our Puerto Rican wallet here…. hmmm looks like we have negative eleventy billion dollars, soooooo… that might be a problem.

    • That’s so BS! The economic hardship didn’t came last week. They knew about the economic crisis and they decided back in May to do 1,500+ polling locations. They decided to reduce to 432 because the Hillary camp didn’t had all it’s poll workers and the Sanders camp did. And what better way to suppress voting than less than a week before the election to reduce the polling locations by 60%?

        • Because the old retired people who’s currently Hillary’s only positive demographic can afford to spend hours in line to vote. While the working class who will be voting for Sanders most likely has a job to rush off to can not wait in line like Hillbots. . Now let’s stop being obtuse on purpose and time for you to put big boy pants on and do some grown up thinking.

    • “severe economic hardship” – so the first cut is Democracy ?

      What changed from a month ago to cut polling places ? It wasn’t an expected voter turn out

    • Since they had the polls open for local elections, would it really have cost more to give out ballots for the Dem primary at the same place and time? Sounds to me like an excuse.

  2. I must also say, I really enjoy the white privilege ignorance in this piece – our economy couldn’t have changed in the last 8 years since we were able to fund the 2008 primary election very easily. We’re just those happy little Mexican-like people on our Caribbean paradise island who like the baseball and the tortas. We must be just evil Hillary-colluders.

    It’s this attitude that turned me off of Bernie and it’s why I’m with her now. I really hope Puerto Rico can deliver all 60 delegates Hillary needs so that we can be vitally important today and maybe get a little more attention from her side which views us as people and not stereotypes.

    • I feel so bad for you to really thinks Hilary actually cares.. If she is the nominee, once this election is over you will just be a thing of the past. Bernie would have made good on his promises. If all this was on the up and up and the Puerto Ricans really did mean to choose Hillary, the people of the Virgin Islands just made a huge mistake.

    • Don’t stay home. Write-in Sanders anyway (as many of my friends are doing) or vote third party. That will send a stronger message than merely not voting.

      • That’s what I’m going to do if Hillary is on the ticket…..I’ll write Sanders in. I’ve had enough to the regular BS from both parties.

        • I’ve been planning on writing in Sanders myself. But I’ve been wondering… do the write-in votes get counted the same way as the votes where the name is already on the ballot? Does anyone know the answer to this question?

          • Rules vary by state on how to be an official write-in candidate.
            For United States presidential candidates, the earliest deadline for a candidate to register as a write-in filing is Florida in July, but almost all write-in filing deadlines are in October, and a few are in September, while one is in August. States not allowing write-ins are Arkansas, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Dakota.

            • Alicia, thank you for this answer. Disheartening that all those states don’t allow write-ins, which pretty much determines a write-in candidate can never be elected. I so wish Bernie would peel off and run as an Independent. It’s obvious that the Dems are not going to accept him as their nominee, even if Hillary has to drop out of the race.

    • Now that’s a mature grown up attitude, I don’t get my way I’m going to stay home. Egads please do then.

  3. Is funny how when bernie has won primaries,no-one have claim fraud from the clinton camp.But as soon as Hillary wins HOLY MOLLY THERE’S UNEQUIVOCALLY VOTE SUPPRESSION AND VOTE FRAUD..sour grapes perhaps? Get over it,bernard can contest all he wants but Hillary will be the Democratic nominee.who will i add has a 3 million vote lead over bernie sanders and a +280 pledge delegate lead as well.and for bernard to have a tantrum and say he should be the Democratic nominee,is certainly insulting the will of the people,who just recently became a Democrat!!!!!

    • So, if the situation were reversed and all these clear acts of voter suppression had been in Sanders’s favor you would have felt it was perfectly alright? I am a life-long Democrat and when this election started I was neutral and would have voted for whichever Democrat won the primary in the general election. Now I know that Clinton is a very corrupt lying cheat, so I will never vote for her and the behavior of the Democratic party has been so blatantly shameful that I may never vote for them again. There is such a thing as integrity and they clearly don’t have it. The only options that I will even consider voting for now are the third parties.

      • Here’s the thing about these voter suppression things you’re hearing about.

        The candidate most affected by them? Hillary Clinton.

        While the Sanders campaign was sending out e-mails and tweets about how upset they were about Arizona, the Clinton campaign is the only entity that actually sued Arizona to get their problems fixed, actually moving the process forward.

        Puerto Rico losing a bunch of voters? Do you think an island that’s just crammed full of minorities is going to be an island that’s better for Hillary or Bernie? Think that through.

        • Ryan Sandoval, Seems you’re showing the internal racial prejudices among White, Black & Brown, Hispanics, and Africans. The only minorities on the Island of Puerto Rico would be White people of U.S. or European decent.

      • Voter suppression was in Sanders’s favor in Arizona. The districts with the fewest polling places were areas that were heavily Latino and Black. The districts with the most polling places were heavily white. Hillary has won Latinos and Blacks by wide margins in every other state. So the voter suppression in Arizona favored Bernie… Hillary would have won by an even greater margin there if there had been more polling places.

        • Wrong… I live in Arizona. Latinos in this health Ilya favor Bernie. Closing of so many polling stations favored Hillary because most of the long time Democrats are Hillary supporters and we’re able to use mail-in ballots. Whereas the new Democrats, the millennials or those that went from Independent to the Democratic Party were ended up trying to vote at the polling stations. Most of those were Bernie supporters. I know quite of few college students that also work had to leave the lines. So to say the voter suppression favored Bernie is a lie. For that fact, Libya of the law suits was ted a re-done.
          Note also that to say Hillary was the only one to file a suit is also a lie. Bernie support group and a third party filed initially. For that fact, we never heard any outcry from the Hillary campaign about voter suppression, or about Party affiliation being changed on long time Democrats. The Hillary campaign did not join the law suit initially.

          What is truly sad are all of these liars that emulate lying Hillary.

          • I meant, Anonymous, I know. I think they have all been schooled in the Clinton College of “How to Twist the Truth to Confuse People.”

            Thank you for setting the record straight here. I didn’t even know where to begin with the Hillary “Confuse the Record” person above.

    • I love how misinformed you are. Have you ever bothered to do any research or do you just blindly believe what you want. Serious cognitive dissonance going on.

    • HRC is a fraud and corporate shill. Like Clinton supporters say…do your homework. If you do you will find she does not deserve your vote.

    • Only when there was, nothing was said in Ohio, South Carolina, Georgia, just to name a few. Why is it that all 1510 polling stations are open, but only 432 can have the presidents names on them? Look over this election, and 2008, you will see many of the same things going on also why would anyone that’s a Democrat, want to vote in someone that is to the right of Reagan?

    • That’s because all of Bernie’s wins are within margin of error, many of Hillary’s wins are 10+points beyond margin of error – which is a clear signal of fraud happening.

  4. Unsurprisingly, Clinton supporters blame Sanders and his supporters when they point out the corruption in the Clinton corronation camp (dnc and friends). If you’re going to say there are no issues then back up your assertions with facts or you’re no better than Trump and his lie based campaign. On a side note, just because Clinton is a horrible candidate doesn’t mean trump is the alternative like so many people seem to think. Jill Stein has a fantastic platform and I will be voting for her if Sanders isn’t the democratic candidate.

    • Just curious… why not write in Bernie Sander’s name? I’ve heard other people say that same thing, and I’ve been wondering whether a write-in vote is counted differently. Do you know the answer to this question?

  5. Sanders lost already, if it was a horse race Clinton is going to cross the finish line never once whipping her horse. Sanders and his supporters are whipping the crap out of their horse but they aren’t even in the stretch run yet, lol. They are claiming victory but will never reach the finish line. I can’t wait to hear their excuse after they lose California. They lost New York and cried, they are going to lose New Jersey next. It’s over Clinton won.

  6. Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action…Its funny how stuff like this keeps occurring to negatively impact Bernie. Especially when the establishment across the board has been in Clinton’s corner. This is why we are #StillSanders because we can’t let this blatant abuse of power continue

  7. Polling estations were reduced to discourage voters. Hillary is better known in PR. My parents went to vote for Sanders and couldnt. They didnt know where they had to go to vote.

  8. Sanders people knew they’d lose, so they started this excuse making. Its always fraud, or some excuse, never that people just don’t want to vote for him.

  9. Are people blind? Can you not see the election has been rigged in Hillarys favor before the election even started. Wake america were supposed to be democratic country. Quit denying

    americans there right to vote. This is shameful.

  10. “On Reddit, one person suggested the problem was that they didn’t have enough poll workers and ballots have to be counted manually. However, this doesn’t make much sense, considering that in 2008 they were able to handle 2,306 polling places” LOL – any credibility this article might have been trying to achieve got wiped out with this nonsense. For one thing, any legitimate report on this subject would have at least provided the reason that was given for the polling place reduction (hint: it’s financial…..). As for whether that reason is plausible, it rather well known (except perhaps on this site) that Puerto Rico is in rather severe financial straits, to put it mildly, right now. BTW, even a cursory comparison of the Democratic and Republican primaries in Puerto Rico would reveal the Republicans also had to reduce their polling places for financial reason (and far more than the Democrats did). As for the certification issues, other sources have reported the Sanders team submitted them late; a legitimate report would have mentioned this.

    I recognize that some Sanders supporters are still in the denial and anger stages of grief,, but this kind of sloppy non-reporting only makes Sanders supporters (and – unfairly – Sanders himself by extension) looks like whiny sore losers.

  11. I heard on progressive talk radio that Bernies camp requested less polling stations because they couldn’t get volunteers to work for Sanders. So kids, this one is Bernies fault no election fraud going on.

    • They are all lies… don’t you ask yourself why Bernie would do that, when a good voter turnout is good for his candidacy? And do you think that Kurt Heckberth in the video above is lying? Bernie can be accused of some things, but he is no liar. This all comes out of the Clinton school of “How to Twist the Truth and Confuse People” to deflect attention away from HER corruption and greed. She may have needed to create a skirmish so people are looking the other way from what is way worse… the investigations into the Clinton Foundation fraud and corruption. WAKE UP! Hillary is not a viable candidate!

  12. Basically the PR Clinton-bought Democrats rigged the polls; closed the 1,500 down to just 500 (down from 2,500 when Hillary ran against Obama)… then offered poll worker positions to Hillary supporters (after telling Bernie supporters they couldn’t apply).

    600,000 predicted turnout ended up being under 300,000…

    But yeah, we’re just “sore losers.”

  13. The DNC is destroying the party with their shenanigans… fraud and voter suppression. The truth will eventually come out, and the damage they are creating will be done. Truth seekers will leave the party in a NEW YORK MINUTE! Very foolish, short sighted and corrupt DNC.

  14. I can’t wait until Wednesday when Sanders will be forced to acknowledge he lost. Trying to convince super delegates to overturn the will of the people will make him look like a fool. I hope he doesn’t try to turn the convention into a fiasco and try to extort the Democratic party into giving him a nomination he didn’t earn.

  15. There is no honor in voting for a criminal who embodies the potential dictators she cozies with who engorge her financially and threaten Democracy! The Sanders campaign lays bare the underbelly of US corruption while on its face, it claims a beacon and model of freedom and democracy. The media hampers truth as the military industrial complex hampers safety, unless you’re a CEO of an oil, mining o agribusiness multi-national seeking markets abroad, what US military “forces” protect, leaving US citizens and global civilians less safe.
    Hillary Clinton and her entourage operate NO differently than Saddam or any other amoral leader. She uses her power for bad and violent ends. She deals arms and sarin gas to military operations that overthrow elected officials. The machine the Clintons have manufactured practices a version of democracy that is risking the health and safety of every human being who desires safety, health, freedom and a world at peace.
    Arizona, NY, Kentucky, Nevada, CA, Puerto Rico…all experiencing the corruption of American dual personality, a moral schizophrenia aided and abetted by puppet media kissing the feet of this world danger. The betrayal of future generations is blatant in the pursuit of more oil, more wars, more bombs unleashed upon the sacred ground…and they call themselves Christians!!!!
    Bernie Sanders, the man of great wisdom and foresight is our candidate for health, safety, peace, and the long overdue transformation to turn swords into plowshares. Too profound that even the so called Christians in the US, can’t even hear his Messianic message. Posers calling themselves Christian while their politics and policies result in crime, disease, inequity, unjust legal double standards….. Forgive them Father, but they damn well KNOW EXACTLY what they do!

  16. Look at those pctures. Clearly frustrated standing waiting. Omg.

    Closed soooo many polling places! Two thirds of them!?! Omg!!

    And then the mindless, thoughtless come along and cant see this is voter suppression?!? OMG!! WAKE UP, YOU MORONS! WAKE UP!! What if it was YOU this had happened to??

    You PR ppl need to make a loud ruckus over this! Protest it! Have a good old fashioned sit in over it! Do NOT just take it! Stop this nonsense now!!