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.



Ryan Sandoval

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.

Jose Colon

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%?

John Marat

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.

Sport Barry

“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

Saloma Furlong

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.


The headline should read:

“Sanders to lose heavily, therefore there must have been fraud”

J Graham

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!

Saloma Furlong

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!”

Elissa Heyman

Your reply is the most succinct, truthful, sum up of who Bernie Sanders is and how corrupt everyone else is, I’ve read on the internet. Or anywhere else.

Sport Barry

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.

J Graham

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

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