Puerto Rico Primaries: Historically, Puerto Ricans Have Low Voter Turnout

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO- As of Monday evening, the Puerto Rico State Commission on Elections, better known as CEE, is delaying certifying the final primary results until all votes are counted. Historically, the island has a low voter turnout in elections.  

As of Monday night, Jesus Manuel Ortiz has a 23-point lead over Juan Zaragoza for the PPD nomination for governor. Only 82 percent of the votes have been counted for this race, counting roughly 131-thousand votes so far. As of Monday night, about 80 percent of the votes have been counted for PNP ballots, making it roughly 244-thousand votes. Jenniffer Gonzalez has a 13-point lead over Governor Pedro Pierluisi.  

“I feel fortunate and grateful for all the support the people of Puerto Rico gave us,” said Gonzalez following the primary’s initial results.  

Although Gonzalez is claiming victory, the CEE on Monday said the partial result should not be interpreted as a final result since there are still votes being processed.  

“This campaign was a hard campaign it was a long campaign,” said Gonzalez folliwng the primary’s initial results.  

According to the US Election Assistance Commission, in 2020, the island had about 2.3 million registered voters. Online sources show only a fraction of registered voters went to the polls for the 2020 primaries. 204-thousand voted in the PPD governor primareis and 281-thousand voted in the PNP primaries. When we spoke with people before the 2024 primaries, many said they were not participating in the primaries. Their reasons vary but historically the island has a relatively low voter turnout. 

Political scientists said it’s typical for primaries to have a lower turnout than a general election. According to online sources, only half of the registered voters on the island participated in the 2020 general elections. Comparing the numbers to the mainland, about two thirds of the voting eligible population turned out for the 2020 election in the US. It makes it t highest turnout in decades.  

For those that did vote, they said issues like electricity, the economy and Puerto Rico’s future status encouraged them to vote in Sunday’s primaries. 

We asked one why he supported Puerto Rican independence rather than statehood: “Because it was the wishes of our ancestors,” said voter Miguel Rodriguez. 

“I believe in equality, I believe in statehood,” said Gonzalez following the initial results of the primary. “That is something that is the main goal of our party.”