21 Sep 2009

Absentee ballots in 2007 Marshall Islands elections goes to High Court

7:52 am on 21 September 2009

A dispute over absentee ballots in the November 2007 national elections in the Marshall Islands is going to trial in the High Court in Majuro.

With some parliament races decided by fewer than five votes in 2007, the case brought by 13 voters living in the United States could overturn results if ultimately successful.

But the challengers face 30 years of precedent: since Marshall Islands constitutional government began in 1979, the High Court has never found in favor of election complaints.

The Chief Justice, Carl Ingram, set October 14 for a status conference to schedule a date for a trial in the case involving Carl Alik, the government's Chief Electoral Officer vs Florence Simeon and 12 other Marshall Islanders living in the U.S. mainland.

Justice Ingram's order followed his rejection of a motion for summary judgment against Mr Alik brought by the voters who are represented by Majuro attorney David Strauss.

The case is a dispute over Mr Alik's handling of absentee ballots.

The 13 voters claim the Marshall Islands government's official web site instructed absentee voters merely to return their ballots "as soon as possible" after receipt, rather than advising of a specific deadline.