DR1 Daily News - Wednesday, 9 October 2019



The JCE needs to announce winners of the primaries by Friday
JCE credibility affected by accusations of fraud
Fernandez told to accept he lost
Jochy Gomez accused of computer fraud in PLD primary
Traffic problems around the JCE
Ministry of Public Works joins the effort to put out Haina fire
Odebrecht trial restarts
Play Ball! Winter baseball starts 12 October

The JCE needs to announce winners of the primaries by Friday
The Central Electoral Board has until Friday, 11 October 2019 to publish the official results for the Dominican Liberation Party (PLD) and Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM) primaries. A source told the news platform N Digital that the request made by PLD pre-candidate Leonel Fernández for an audit of the automated voting equipment does not invalidate the results of the presidential, congressional and municipal primary.

"The Board may validate the results within the five days granted by law and order the audit of the teams. If an anomaly is found, then it would invalidate whoever it affects," said the source.

The preliminary results of the primaries show Gonzalo Castillo as the apparent winner of the presidential candidacy for the PLD and Luís Abinader for the PRM.

The president of the JCE, Julio César Castaños Guzmán noted that two days after the primaries, no challenges have been reported in any of the 7,372 voting tables.

Former President Leonel Fernandez did formalize before the JCE a request for an audit of the automated voting equipment and software by a technical mission, under the supervision of the Organization of American States (OAS), the European Union (EU) and the Embassy of the United States.

Fernández's representatives, Rubén Maldonado, Fernando Fernández and Radhamés Jiménez requested that the JCE immediately order the retention, safekeeping and prohibition of access to the electronic equipment (hardware) and operating system (software) contracted by that electoral body through the tender of reference JCE-CCC-LPI-01-2019, acquired from Digiworld, S.R.L.


JCE credibility affected by accusations of fraud
The Central Electoral Board (JCE) had said the primaries for the ruling Dominican Liberation Party (PLD) and the largest opposition party (PRM) would test the automated voting devices and staff before the 2020 general elections.

Dominicans all followed the Sunday, 6 October primary as the votes were impressively streamed live on the Internet. 99% of the results were counted in less than four hours, unprecedented for the Dominican Republic. By Monday, 7 October, nevertheless, the JCE had not released the final results for the PLD primary. Instead, after the results were contested by the apparent loser, former President Leonel Fernández, the JCE removed the vote tallies from its website and agreed to investigate the allegations of irregularities.

The PLD primary demonstrated what could go wrong in the 2020 general election. The team of former President Leonel Fernández says the automated system was hacked to ensure Gonzalo Castillo, who has the backing of President Danilo Medina, be the winner.

Despite early on allegations that automating voting was too vulnerable, the Central Electoral Board convinced the political party of the plusses and purchased the new equipment. The JCE invited local university IT departments to report on the trustworthiness of the system.

The JCE has said that it is open to investigate yet the protocols need to be followed. The credibility of the JCE into the 2020 general election is at stake.

In his early on support for the purchase of the automated voting devices, Julio Cesar Castaños, president of the JCE had stated the automated voting equipment could be audited, since it generates a physical voucher per voter that is saved as evidence of the voter's true intention. Likewise, the information on the vote count would be transmitted simultaneously to the JCE, the participating political parties, and the media.

José Ignacio Paliza, president of the PRM, says he backs the physical recount of the votes. The position is supported by the Permanent Commission of Political Parties of Latin America (Copppal) and the Citizen Participation (PC) civic watchdog group. Paliza tweeted that all electoral processes should be objectively assessed to eliminate any doubt. The PRM election ended with former President Hipólito Mejía conceding defeat to winner Luis Abinader.

Orlando Jorge Mera, the PRM political delegate to the JCE, says the party backs the request by the Leonelista sector of the PLD that the votes of the primaries be counted manually. He also favors the carrying out of an independent international audit of the automated vote process.

The investigation will also help instate controls for the 2020 general election. Polls show that there is no clear winner for the presidential election scheduled for 17 May 2020 and this could be as close as the PLD primary.

Contrary to the PRM primaries that were only open to registered PRM members, the PLD primary was open to any eligible Dominican voter.


Fernandez told to accept he lost
Administrative Minister of the Presidency José Ramón Peralta called for former President Leonel Fernández to stop making a scene and accept that he has lost the ruling party presidential nomination. Speaking on the radio talk show, El Sol de la Mañana, Peralta said that already others who have lost had accepted their defeat. Peralta described the primary as "transparent."

Regarding Gonzalo Castillo, Peralta said while he has not yet been declared the official candidate for the PLD, he is sure Castillo will be the country's next President in May 2020 and will continue the work of President Danilo Medina.

Peralta said that in the National District and 31 provinces, Medina-backed candidates had won 24 at the presidential level and 25 at the congressional level.


Jochy Gomez accused of computer fraud in PLD primary
Former Chamber of Deputies president, Rubén Maldonado has accused José Ángel (Jochy) Gómez Canaán of complicity in implementing an electronic fraud to alter the results of the ruling Dominican Liberation Party (PLD) primary that took place on Sunday, 6 October 2019. The media disclosed that this is not the first time Gómez is charged with computer hacking.

Maldonado deposited a request for the custody of the electronic voting equipment used in the election as a precautionary measure until experts investigate the equipment and software used during the primary. Maldonado said the fraud occurred with complicity of individuals inside the JCE.

He described Gomez as a "dark character in Dominican society," who in 2012 was accused of hacking 44 e-mail accounts of politicians and businessmen in the country. Included in these were the emails of then First Lady Margarita Cedeño. The victims did not pursue the case and the charges against Gomez were dropped. He did serve pre-trial custody time in jail back then but was released after the charges were dropped and the case filed in 2013.

The Leonel Fernández team says that 97,266 votes were taken from Fernández that should have won with 52%. They allege there were irregularities in 671 voting stations.


Traffic problems around the JCE
Drivers who need to be on 27 February Avenue, Isabel Aguiar and Luperón avenues should do their best to avoid the area, especially at peak hours. Traffic at the usually congested area has gotten worse. The area now is surrounded by military and the Av. Luperón is closed in front of the Central Electoral Court (JCE), significantly reducing the flow of traffic. Luperon Avenue is closed in the North-South direction and 27 February with Luperón in both directions. Those headed to San Cristóbal should go by the Malecón or use the Circunvalación Sur from the north. Traffic is also flowing through the Anacaona Avenue for those headed west.

The militarization comes after followers of former President Leonel Fernández have protested the results for the 6 October Dominican Liberation Party (PLD) primary. The Central Electoral Board (JCE) has not given its final bulletin. In its last vote count with 100% of the votes in, Gonzalo Castillo, the chosen candidate of those who follow President Danilo Medina, was the winner with a narrow margin. The JCE has since Monday taken down the results page.


Ministry of Public Works joins the effort to put out Haina dump fire
Some 13 days after the fire began in the garbage dump in the municipality of Haina, the fire continues affecting the southwestern community. As reported, the Ministry of Public Works sent heavy equipment and six water trucks to join the municipal firemen.

Naval Captain Luis Manuel Féliz, director of the Military and Police section at the Ministry, assured that the equipment would be working until the fire is put out. Haina Mayor Osvaldo Rodriguez says the fire is 80% out, and that the smoke is not affecting the people as before. He said that investigations are going on to determine why the fire started.


Odebrecht trial restarts
After almost two weeks in recess, the Supreme Court of Justice recommenced the Odebrecht trial against the six that are accused of accepting bribes from the Brazilian contractor on Tuesday, 8 October 2019. Presiding judge is Luis Henry Molina, who earlier this year was elected to the position.

The charged are the former commercial representative for Odebrecht in the country, Ángel Rondón; San Cristóbal senator Tommy Galán Grullón; former minister of Public Works, Víctor Díaz Rúa; former president of the Senate, Andrés Bautista García; former director of the National Institute of Potable Water and Sewage (INAPA), Roberto Rodríguez and lawyer Conrado Pittaluga.

The case is being heard by the Supreme Court of Justice after senator Tommy Galan was included. During the Sunday, 6 October 2019 Dominican Liberation Party (PLD) primary, he was voted to run for reelection as the senator of San Cristóbal.


Play Ball! Winter baseball starts 12 October
As of Saturday, 12 October 2019, the Dominican Winter Professional Baseball Championship begins. The tournament opens with a 5pm game between the Leones del Escogido and the Tigres del Licey at the Quisqueya Ball Park in Santo Domingo. There will also be an opening game at 7pm between the Aguilas Cibaeñas and the Gigantes del Cibao at the Julián Javier Ball Park in San Francisco de Macorís. And in the East, the Toros del Este meets the Estrellas Orientales, the defending champions, at the Tetelo Vargas Ball Park in San Pedro de Macorís.

Games between the six teams will continue through 17 December for the regular season.