Electronic Vote Count in Puerto Rico was Overpriced, but Mostly Failed Across-the-Board on Election Day

Machines that did not recognize the electronic key to get the process going at the polling stations; others that did not read or in which the ballots got stuck; some that shut off in the middle of the voting process; and many that were unable to transmit the results. In other polling stations, memory cards were damaged during the voting process or simply never worked. This was the type of failure that was repeated in almost all polling stations during the 2020 election process, the Center for Investigative Journalism (CPI, in Spanish) confirmed with more than 20 sources. When the State Elections Commission (SEC) was asked for a record of reported equipment failures in polling stations, the agency did not release the information. The CPI learned that to this date, there isn’t a complete report of how many machines experienced malfunctioning or information about how many of those cases were related to a lack of maintenance, because the SEC does not have a formal, agile and consolidated procedure to collect this information.

Early Voting 2020 in Puerto Rico: A Disaster that Threatens Democracy

The disconnect between the databases used for the 231,167 special vote requests registered by the Absentee and Early Voting Administrative Board (JAVAA, in Spanish) and the Permanent Registration Boards (JIP, in Spanish) is one of the major deficiencies that caused a duplication in the number of requests prior to the Puerto Rico elections, an investigation by the Center for Investigative Journalism (CPI, in Spanish) found after interviewing more than a dozen sources within the State Elections Commission (SEC). “Two different ways of voting could have been registered for the same voter: early and absentee,” said a person who worked closely with the process of entering the data of the requests for these votes in the SEC’s database. The JAVAA and JIPs, the two entities that handle these requests, worked on two different tables within the same database. This resulted in JAVAA staff overlooking the requests that the JIPs were processing. In turn, the JIPs had no visibility of the applications processed by the JAVAA.