Elections

Bernie Sanders And The Puerto Rico Democratic Party Go At It

REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Alex Pfeiffer White House Correspondent

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign and the Puerto Rico Democratic Party went at it over the weekend over accusations that the Sanders campaign requested fewer polling stations.

The beef between the two groups started Saturday with the Hispanic vote director for the Sanders campaign accusing the Puerto Rican Democratic Party of “fraud” because Sanders polling officials weren’t certified. “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 [Hillary Clinton’s] went in,” Betsy Franceschini told Caribbean Business. “This is a great fraud,” she added.

Puerto Rico Democratic Party president Roberto Prats responded, saying, “the claim that the Democratic Party is delaying the certification of the Sanders’ poll workers is preposterous. The first complete set of poll workers for tomorrow’s primary we have certified were all from the Sanders campaign.”

Hillary Clinton ended up winning the Puerto Rican Democratic Primary Sunday with over 60 percent of the vote. During voting Sunday, Democratic officials on the island blamed the Sanders campaign for a lack of polling stations, and subsequent low turnout. They claimed, “that the Sanders campaign is the one that requested a cut in number of polling stations today.”

In a statement sent out late Sunday night, the Sanders campaign shot back against these accusations. “Some Puerto Rico Democratic officials are claiming that the Sanders campaign requested fewer polling places in today’s primary contest. That’s completely false. The opposite is true,” the Sanders campaign wrote in an email.

It continued on to say: “in emails with the party, Sanders’ staff asked the party to maintain the 1,500 plus presidential primary locations promised by the Puerto Rico Democratic party in testimony before the DNC in April, when the party was asking to have its caucus changed to a primary. They cannot blame their shoddy running of the primary on our campaign. This is just one example of irregularities going on in Puerto Rico voting today. We are the campaign that has been fighting to increase voter participation.”

Sanders national press secretary Symone D. Sanders, no known relation, tweeted out Monday morning, “voter suppression is a disgusting tactic employed by Republicans. It’s an insult to group Sen. Sanders in that category.”

With Clinton’s wins this weekend in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, she is 26 delegates short of the Democratic nomination.