On Sunday, the municipal elections in the Dominican Republic were suspended by the Central Electoral Board (JCE) due to a series of technical difficulties found in the electronic ballot machines used to elect 3,849 positions in 158 municipalities, according to Reuters. Now, hundreds of protesters are taking to the streets, demanding that all of JCE’s board members step down for corruption.
In Santiago, RD, protestors chanted “zero dictatorship, we want democracy,” in Spanish.
On Twitter, Dominican and Dominican-American users used hashtags like #JusticiaParaRD (Justice for DR), #SabotajeElectoralRD (Electoral Sabotage RD), #JCErenunciaYa (JCE Resign Already) to show their solidarity.
JCE president Julio César Castaños addressed the issue at a press conference the day after the election and admitted that nearly half of the electronic ballot machines were not working correctly. Although voting in 140 municipalities went down smoothly, that was not the case in the 18 municipalities where many of the virtual ballots failed to load completely. In other words, at least 62% of Dominican registered voters reportedly attempted to vote at locations without fully-functioning machines.
The inconsistencies in the electronic voting system forced Castaños to suspend the municipal elections and launch an investigation on what went wrong. But, many Dominicans are not convinced.
During the elections, voters noted that candidates who were not a part of the Dominican Liberation Party (PLD), the country’s ruling party, did not appear on the digital ballots, according to The New York Times. This led many to believe that the voting glitch was intentionally implemented by the JCE in order to benefit the PLD.
Following the suspension, protestors headed to the Junta Central Electoral building to express their frustrations over the failure and to call for the electoral board to resign immediately.
Police arrived at the scene and threw tear gas bombs at the protesters shortly after, but that hasn’t stopped demonstrators from speaking out against corruption.
In response to the backlash, Castaños announced that the municipal election will now be held on March 15, 2020.
Let’s see if the electoral board will get it right this time.