The Commonwealth Election Commission's board of directors lacks three members and is expected to lose another member before the November election-vacancies that could negatively impact the conduct of a smooth election if appointments are not made soon.
The commission's board is a nine-member body composed of five representatives from Saipan and two commissioners each from Rota and Tinian, all of whom serve four-year terms.
The board currently has two vacancies for Saipan after the resignations of Elizabeth Aldan and Jose Itibus, while the position of Tinian commissioner has been vacant following the expiration of Don Hofschneider's term last year.
Commission executive director Robert A. Guerrero yesterday confirmed these vacancies to Saipan Tribune. He added that the term of the remaining member from Tinian, Jose Kiyoshi, is set to expire on Oct. 4.
Based on the local election law, the board needs five members to get a quorum with at least one representative each from Tinian and Rota. Without any representative from the two islands, the five members cannot conduct a quorum.
Guerrero admitted that nothing has so far been provided to the agency with regards to board appointments. He said that prior appointments were either withdrawn or declined by nominees.
Gov. Benigno R. Fitial has the sole authority to appoint members to the board, subject to Senate confirmation.
The mid-term election is on Nov. 6 this year and the board has to sanction plans and actions to be taken by the commission.
Guerrero revealed that based on law, the board can push through with the tabulation of ballots after election day even without a quorum provided there are five commissioners present on the tabulation committee.
However, he emphasized that all election results requires the sanction and certification of the entire board during a session.
“If no appointment and confirmation will be made after Oct. 4, the board cannot meet and certify the election results,” said Guerrero.
He said the commission has already informed the Executive Branch about these vacancies and the constraints that might happen as a result of the lack of commissioners.
The six members currently onboard include chairperson Frances Sablan, Antonio Agulto, and Jesus Sablan for Saipan; Leilanie Manglona and Josepha Barcinas for Rota; and Kiyoshi for Tinian.