SANTO DOMINGO – Polling places in the Dominican Republic opened on Sunday for the municipal elections that were rescheduled after the vote on Feb. 16 was suspended due to a failure in the newly-inaugurated computer voting system being used at some precincts.
The polls opened at 7:00 am and will close at 5:00 pm, as established by the Central Electoral Board (JCE), which is planning to release the first results when 20 percent of the ballots have been counted or two hours after the closure of the polls, whichever comes first.
Almost 7.5 million Dominicans are eligible to vote on Sunday to elect 158 mayors and an equal number of vice mayors, 1,164 councilors and their substitutes, 235 directors and assistant directors and 735 members of assorted committees, all of whom will take office on April 24 for four-year terms.
The JCS called the elections for Sunday after on Feb. 16 election authorities found themselves forced to suspend that day’s vote four hours after polls opened due to a failure in the automated voting mechanism that was being used for the first time in 18 major cities around the country.
After the glitch, the causes of which are still being investigated by the Organization of American States, it was decided that the re-vote would be fully manual rather than having some precincts using computer-assisted voting.
The municipal elections, which for the first time in more than 50 years are being held separately from the legislative and presidential votes, are key for both the governing Dominican Liberation Party (PLD), which along with its political allies holds 107 of the country’s 158 mayorships, and for the opposition Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM), which holds 30, including the National District in downtown Santo Domingo.
The result of the elections will serve as a barometer for the presidential balloting in May, in which Dominicans will select the successor to President Danilo Medina.
Running for president are former minister Gonzalo Castillo, Medina’s heir apparent; the PRM’s Luis Abinader, who is ahead in the voter surveys; and former President Leonel Fernandez, who last October created The Force of the People (FP) after renouncing his position as president and member of the PLD alleging that the government committed fraud against him in the party primaries on March 6.