Voters breach 17,000-mark

Election Commission holds voter registration also in Oregon where gubernatorial bets will campaign

For the first time in CNMI history, the number of registered voters has breached the 17,000-mark on a general election year. As of Aug. 19, the number of registered voters reached 17,071 and is expected to grow further especially with a two-day registration drive in Portland, Oregon, where the 10th Annual CNMI Labor Day Softball Tournament will be held this weekend.

“Yes this is the highest number of voters registered with this agency,” Commonwealth Election Commission executive director Robert A. Guerrero confirmed with Saipan Tribune.

Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) separately said the number of registered voters back when he was Election Commission executive director was lower than 17,000.

Private groups have been beefing up campaigns for young adults to register to vote, separate from the registration drives that the Election Commission has been conducting.

In the 2009 general elections, there were 16,146 registered voters. During the 2005 general elections, the number was 15,118.

Just like any other country, however, the actual votes cast in the CNMI is lower than the total number of registered voters in any election year.

The Election Commission board certified all 99 candidates for 44 positions, which do not include the one justice and two judges that are up for retention.

Of the 17,071 registered voters as of last week, over 27 percent or 4,704 is from election district 1 on Saipan, which covers San Antonio, San Vicente, and Koblerville.

Over 19 percent or 3,379 is from election district 3, covering San Jose/Oleai and Garapan.

Election district 5 or Kagman so far has 2,703 registered voters, followed by election district 4 with 1,723. Election district 4 covers Tanapag, San Roque, Capital Hill, and the Northern Islands.

Rota or election district 7 so far has 1,692 registered voters, while Tinian or election district 6 has 1,456.

Election district 2 or the Chalan Kanoa/Susupe area has the lowest number of registered voters at 1,414.

The last day for voters’ registration for the 2014 elections is on Sept. 5, just 60 days before the polls.

All roads to Oregon

Guerrero said there will be a 2014 general election registration drive on Aug. 30 and 31, from 10am to 5pm, at Delta Park/Owens Sports Complex in Portland, Oregon, where the 10th Annual CNMI Labor Day Softball Tournament will be held.

CNMI residents who would like to register must provide a copy of either their certificate of live birth or a valid U.S. passport as proof of their U.S. citizenship upon registration.

Meanwhile, the annual CNMI Labor Day Softball Tournament, which is held in different states almost every year, has become a special reunion of those from the CNMI and are now living in different parts of the U.S. mainland. During election year, the softball tournament venue has also become a stomping ground for candidates and this general election year is no different.

The four gubernatorial candidates for the Nov. 4 race are all headed for Portland, Oregon. Two of them will be traveling with their running mates.

Gov. Eloy S. Inos of the Republican Party left for Oregon on Sunday but will be back in the CNMI in time for Sunday’s Labor Day festivities here.

Democratic Party Edward “Tofila” M. Deleon Guerrero is also headed for Oregon, and so does independent gubernatorial candidate Heinz S. Hofschneider.

Another independent gubernatorial candidate, Juan N. Babauta, left Saipan yesterday afternoon for a multi-state campaign.

Babauta told Saipan Tribune, while he was at the airport, that he will be attending the opening ceremonies of the CNMI’s Annual Softball Tournament in Oregon.

“I will be making a stop in Hawaii, San Diego, Las Vegas and Portland. I will return after the opening ceremonies. I look forward to meetings with our CNMI residents and talking with them about the future of the CNMI,” Babauta added.

The CNMI is likely headed for a gubernatorial runoff race if not one of the teams gets at least 50 percent plus 1 of the votes cast during the Nov. 4 general elections.

Moreover, a special election will be held to fill a vacancy at the Senate vacated by former floor leader Ray Yumul, now a certified candidate for lieutenant governor and Hofschneider’s running mate.

Meanwhile, the request for absentee ballots started on Aug. 21, or 75 days before the general elections.

Haidee V. Eugenio | Reporter
Haidee V. Eugenio has covered politics, immigration, business and a host of other news beats as a longtime journalist in the CNMI, and is a recipient of professional awards and commendations, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s environmental achievement award for her environmental reporting. She is a graduate of the University of the Philippines Diliman.

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