Voting in the Dominican Republic paused



People of the Dominican Republic take to the streets to protest the recent ban on their voting.

Maggie Estes, News Writer

Early last month in the Iowa caucus, malfunctions occurred with electronic voting, but issues with recent electronic elections are not only in the United States. Municipal elections, originally on February 16, in the Dominican Republic have been suspended by the Junta Central Electoral (the Dominican Election Board) for the first time in the country’s history due to half of the electronic voting devices not working properly and virtual ballot papers failing to load. This issue is viewed by many as a threat to democracy and, citizens are demanding that future elections be fairer.
Officials said they knew of a problem with the machines at least a day before the election but thought it could be easily fixed. Only candidates from the country’s right-wing party, the Dominican Liberation Party (PLD), who have controlled the presidency for the last 16 years, were shown. The electronic ballots that were previously used in October 2019 had no issues and cost the country $19 million.
The system failure left 7.4 million native Dominicans as well as around 400,000 Dominicans living in the United States and Puerto Rico unable to vote. The cause of the malfunction is still unknown, but many voters suspect it was tampered with by the PLD to skew results and regain the control they have lost.
The lack of government response and seeming political corruption led to citizens peacefully protesting in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic’s capital, for an independent investigation and resignation of the elections board officials. Solidarity protests have also spread to New York, Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia with celebrities like actress Zoe Saldaña, who attended one of the protests, showing support.
Dominican officials suspended the elections board’s national technical director and have asked the Organization of American States, a group similar to the United Nations but specifically for the western hemisphere, to conduct the investigation.
The election has been postponed until March 15, a month after the original election, and will only use paper ballots.