Head of Puerto Rico's troubled elections commission resigns

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — The president of Puerto Rico's elections commission announced Thursday that he is resigning immediately, nearly a month after botched primaries forced a second round of voting in an unprecedented event for the U.S. territory.

Juan Ernesto Dávila said in a statement that he was stepping down for the well-being of his family, friends and fellow church worshippers.

“I don't want to be a distraction at this moment in our history,” he said, denying that he was resigning because of pending lawsuits. He decried what he said were “lies, insults and slander” against him.

Top government officials had repeatedly demanded that he step down following the Aug. 9 debacle in which dozens of voting centers never opened due to missing or delayed ballots. Dávila and others blamed the problems on ballots arriving behind schedule and noted that trucks loaded with ballots and electronic voting machines didn't leave for voting centers until the day of the primary, when normally they depart one or two days before.

It was not immediately clear who would replace Dávila as Puerto Rico prepares for the Nov. 3 general elections.

The most closely watched race in last month's primaries was that of the pro-statehood New Progressive Party, which pitted veteran politician Pedro Pierluisi against Gov. Wanda Vázquez, who lost. A record six candidates will be running for governor.