Puerto Rico Presidential Primaries

Republican and Democratic symbols

Since Puerto Rico is not a state, the Island cannot participate in presidential elections. Puerto Rico does hold presidential primaries, though, and sends delegates to the Democratic and Republican conventions.

For 2020, the Republican Primary was scheduled for June 7th and the Democratic Primary is scheduled for July 12th. It was previously planned for March.

In both cases, the coronavirus pandemic prevented the primaries from taking place as originally planned.

The Republican Primary

The Republican primary was scheduled for the past weekend. Ballotpedia explains that the primary did not take place. Instead, there was an “electronic referendum” among party leaders on June 5th. 23 delegates were chosen, and those delegates will attend the Republican Party National Convention. There they will vote for the Republican candidate. Donald Trump is expected to win the nomination, since he gained enough delegates in the primaries in March.

The Republican National Convention was planned for August 24-27 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The city officials wanted a higher level of social distancing in response to the coronavirus pandemic than President Trump was comfortable with, so there is now uncertainty about the location of the convention. Florida and Georgia are rumored as possibilities.

The Democratic Primary

Puerto Rico’s Democratic Primary normally takes place in June. This year, the primary was originally moved up to March in order to give Puerto Rico a stronger showing in the primaries. When COVID-19 restrictions interfered, the primary was moved to April 26th and then to July 12th.

Puerto Rico holds open primaries, which means that anyone may vote in either primary. Each voter may participate in only one of the primaries. In theory, since the Republican Primary did not take place, this could mean that all voters on the Island could vote in the Democratic Primary.

However, just as President Trump already has enough delegates to be the candidate for the Republican Party, former Vice President Joe Biden already has enough delegates to be the candidate for the Democratic Party.

The Democratic Party Chairman in Puerto Rico,  Charles Rodríguez, said that he wanted “to avoid the primary and save much needed public funds to deal with the COVID-19 emergency and budgetary constraints, and instead adopt an alternate method for selecting delegates.”

However, former candidate Bernie Sanders has been insistent that all primaries should be held as usual. While he is out of running for president, Sanders wants to pick up as many delegates as possible to maintain influence at the convention. Puerto Rico has 58 delegates.

The Democratic National Convention is scheduled for August 17-20 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The event may be partly or entirely virtual, in response to contagion concerns about the coronavirus.

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