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Puerto Rico Re-Establish Drinking Ban Before GOP Primary

Puerto Rico's State Commission of Elections (CEE) has reversed its earlier decision and applied a drinking ban for the Republican Party primary on Sunday.

A decades-old electoral law provision, in which no one is allowed to drink alcoholic beverages during general elections and primary events, was first revoked before Sunday’s GOP Primary.

However, on a last minute turnover, the Puerto Rico’s State Commission of Elections (CEE) reversed their decision and applied the drinking ban law, citing a mistake made by the Republican Party in Puerto Rico and that the Electoral Commissioners did not had the legal authority to revoke the law and they considered the Presidential Primary as an electoral event covered by the law.


The Government of Puerto Rico decided on Friday, that the electoral charter status known as “Ley Seca” or Non Drinking Electoral Disposition Law, was not to apply to the Republican Party’s Presidential Primary to be hold on Sunday.  However the State Elections Commission decided on Saturday, to impose the ban, based on a mistake by the Republican Party leadership in the island, in which they needed to amend their primary rules.  The President of the State Elections Commission Liza Garcia-Velez told that, it would be the Commonwealth’s court to decide if the non drinking law still applies to the island’s Republican Party Primaries.  Asides from the Republican Primary, the island will also hold the Democratic Party Primary, a few weeks away and had said that the non drinking ban will still apply during the event.


According to current law in Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory in the Caribbean, alcohol consumption is banned during electoral events, including general elections. The law is known as “Ley Seca,” which stands for No Drinking Law. The law says that no one is allowed to drink during the electoral event, and that no business – supermarkets, bars, pubs, sport venues, etc. – will be allowed to sell, serve, or consume alcoholic beverages between midnight and 9:00 PM on the day of the electoral event. If caught disobeying the law, individuals can be punished with up to 60 days in jail, though it does not apply to tourist-designated areas like hotels and resorts owned by the Puerto Rico’s Tourism Company.

While the decades-old law has been questioned and called archaic given today’s standards, the Government of Puerto Rico will still observe the legal process for the fairness of every electoral candidate participating in the GOP Primary happening on Sunday.

Some business partnerships requested that Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla halt the anti-drinking law provision of the electoral law. A major sporting event was told they can’t sell alcoholic beverages on Sunday, causing the organizers to cancel several events.  The Governor claims that under the Commonwealth’s Electoral Law, the only way it can be halted is by passing an amendment.

The Republican Party leadership on the island has said that while they believe the elections have to be held in fairness with the Electoral law, they believe that the drinking ban law is unnecessary as it takes away police resources in an effort to ban excessive drinking during the electoral process.

The law provision can also apply during non electoral related events and emergency situations on the island, like during a hurricane or earthquake, as part of the Governor’s executive orders request. It can then be revoked after the emergency has been suspended.


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