Unprecedented number of CNMI voters prepare for elections
Record number of voters prepare to vote in an unprecedented three elections in CNMI.
An unprecedented number of people have registered to vote in what could be an historic three elections in the Northern Marianas.
The Commonwealth Election Commission says registration has now closed with nearly 18,000 people prepared to vote in November.
Executive Director Robert Guerrero told Koro Vaka'uta the multiple elections will be historic for a number of reasons.
ROBERT GUERRERO: We are actually at 17,440. That number is expected to grow in the next week or so, because although our registrations closed, registered voters from abroad, as long as their registration application is post marked on the fifth, we can receive it at a later date. After September fifth, by next week can expect the number to go up.
KORO VAKA'UTA: Do you know of how much it may go up, or that process?
RG: You know, I have to admit, I gave up trying to figure that out. Because a month ago, we only had 16,000 and a month later we are up to 17,000 close to 18,000. So I dont want to speculate on that.
KV: The registration figure, how does that compare, both with the US and other elections internationally and also with previous elections in the CNMI.
RG: This is kind of a historic election year. Because one, we have the general election on the fourth, paired up with the special election for the open senate seat on the fourth as well and the possibility of a run off election, two weeks after the certification. Which is probably towards the end of November. So we are looking at three elections in a month. Historically we have had 75 percent to 85 percent turn out on elections. Its going to be an interesting one.
KV: Those registrations relate to all or they will be valid for all those elections?
RG: Yes there is, but keep in mind that absentee voters, they have to actually request for absentee voting. Its not an automatic thing. So you might request for the general election, but you do not request for the special election or the run off. So you wont get to vote on those two days if you are not gonna be on island to vote. If you dont request for one. Everything is pretty much on track for the election. We continuously receive requests for absentee voter, ran up to close to 800. But I think at the end of the day it will be in excess of 800 requests for absentee voting.
KV: Why do you think there is this boost or this surge from previous elections to these record breaking numbers?
RG: Well its actually the candidates that are running for office, that are pushing people, that are not, that just dont care to vote in previous elections, that are eligible to vote. So I think the majority of it is the candidates pushing for it, but keep in mind also, that we are people. So younger generations actually want to take part, so in the electoral process and be part of the decision making process, with their elected leaders once they get elected. So I think that's mostly what it is.
KV: You mentioned that it is pretty unique, the possibility of three elections within a short space of time. Is that the first time that this sort of situation has occurred?
RG: Yes actually the law that implemented the run off was first done in 2009, with a general election and a run off election. But this is the first time that it actually, that a special election will be done at the same time, concurrent with the general election on the fourth. So we are going to have two elections for sure, which is the general election and the special election and then the run off if needed. Because four candidates for gubernatorial so the likelihood of them getting 50 plus one vote is very unlikely. So more likely we will have a special election.
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