Bernie Sanders supporter Manny Rivera is a U.S. Navy veteran who is tackling a major problem with the Democratic primary election in Puerto Rico. After it was announced Friday that less than one-third of the previously establish polling locations would be open for the presidential primary on June 5, Rivera, understanding that transportation will be limited and public transit unavailable on primary day, devised a strategy to help ensure that Bernie Sanders gets a fair crack at earning delegates in Puerto Rico.
Anyone born in Puerto Rico on or after January 13, 1941, are citizens of the United States as a birthright, but they can’t vote for the president in the general election, because Puerto Rico does not have statehood. In April of 2000, Puerto Ricans almost won their right to vote in the general elections when the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico declared that U.S. citizens residing in Puerto Rico had a right to vote. In 2000, Al Gore was running against George Bush in a highly-controversial election. Puerto Ricans in Florida generally lean towards the Democratic party.
Socially conservative, Puerto Ricans are similar to the Democrats of the Midwest in political beliefs, according to numerous pundits. U.S. citizens living in Puerto Rico, they claim, could have altered the 2000 election outcome. The Puerto Rico legislature authorized a presidential election, and everyone was set to vote, until the right was revoked by a higher court and the election was cancelled, The Green Papers reported. Consequently, U.S. citizens living in Puerto Rico have only the primaries to have their vote count, since both major parties allow Puerto Ricans to vote in their election selecting presidential nominees.
Manny Rivera intends to make sure that voters aren’t disenfranchised from the only chance they will get this election season to vote for a presidential candidate in the wake of the significant polling location cut.
“My name is Manny a 33 years old Navy Veteran and Bernie Sanders supporter. I currently living in Puerto Rico and I’m volunteering with the Bernie Sanders’ Campaign here in Puerto Rico,” Rivera wrote. “The Voting Poll locations in Puerto Rico have been reduced by the Democratic Party from 1615 to 455! We are a few days away from the big day. No public transportation will be offered to Puerto Ricans on Sunday, June 5th Please help us to provide transportation to people in need.”
Rivera’s solution to the potential disenfranchisement of so many Democratic voters on the island?
Puerto Rico has eight voting districts, and Rivera has declared that each district will have four drivers available all day to shuttle voters to and from their polling locations. A GoFundMe page is collecting donations for people who want to help cover the tab so that Puerto Ricans can exercise their only chance to have any say in the 2016 presidential election. The fundraiser has amassed over $3,000 in donations as of late Friday morning and almost reached its goal. Earlier in the morning, it was at just over $500.
“You guys are gonna make this happen and you will remember this year for all your years to come!! VIVA LA REVOLUCION,” wrote Bernie Sanders supporter Suz Denissov.
Public transport is nonexistent in some parts of Puerto Rico, and in other areas, according to The Costa Rica Star, it is inefficient. On the Sunday of the primary, public transportation will be limited to essentially taxis and Uber, reports indicate. In perfect timing for the Bernie Uber project, the California-based transportation networking firm recently began operating in Puerto Rico after gaining legislative approval.
While Rivera works to get voters transportation to their polling locations, the Sanders campaign has been reaching out to voters with a new political ad. The ad highlights Sanders’ opposition to “vulture funds” and “the insider deal,” the narrator says in Spanish.
“Why? It could lead to slashed pensions, more unemployment, closed hospitals and school cuts.”
Sanders also made a campaign stop in Puerto Rico where his normal stump speech was altered to speak against the piece of legislation in the House of Representatives that would create a financial oversight board in order to handle Puerto Rico’s debt. Hillary Clinton is leaning in favor of the legislation, according to The Hill.
Bernie Sanders will introduce his own legislation to help the island. Sanders’ bill will help boost financial recovery for Puerto Ricans and Medicaid and Medicare payments to the island. It will also designate $10.8 billion towards the island’s crumbling infrastructure, which would also create jobs, Star Herald reported. Sanders’ commitment to infrastructure, taking care of the poor, and economic development is famed as the reasons that Sanders, while mayor, was able to revive Burlington, Vermont, into a thriving city.
“We have got to make it clear to these vulture funds that they cannot have it all,” Sanders said. “The solution to Puerto Rico’s debt crisis is not more austerity. The solution is more economic development, more jobs and less poverty.”
Ahead of the controversial primary election, at the same time that Metro announced the polling location cut, it also erroneously reported Clinton’s delegate count by including superdelegates. A DNC official has stated that superdelegates should not be included by the media, because superdelegates do not vote until the convention and are free to change their mind if they feel that one candidate or another might perform better in the general election in November. Including superdelegates in the count gives the false impression that Clinton is just a handful of delegates away from the nomination, whereas it is almost statistically impossible for Clinton to win the nomination before the convention. Watch the video below to see the DNC official specifically instruct CNN not to include superdelegates in any delegate count reporting.
Puerto Rico has 60 delegates available, but a lack of pre-election polls makes it incredibly difficult to know whether Clinton or Sanders is ahead in the hearts and minds of Puerto Ricans.
Roberto Prats, the leader of the Democratic party in Puerto Rico, reportedly says that the decision to eliminate the majority of polling locations was the result of limited resources due to local elections also taking place, Bustle reported.
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