The Commonwealth Election Commission will print 17,500 ballots for the upcoming mid-term elections in November, according to executive director Robert A. Guerrero yesterday.
Guerrero also said the commission has identified a $79,000 budget for the whole exercise.
The number of ballots would only be adjusted if a large increase is seen after the deadline for voter registration in September, Guerrero said.
These ballots are expected to be picked up by the first week of September.
The overall election budget assumes that there will only be two legislative initiatives that will be placed on the ballot. Guerrero said that adding any more initiatives will call for a revision in the budget.
Saipan Tribune learned that the $79,000 budget for this year's election will come from two fiscal years' appropriation for the commission-$28,395 in 2012 and $50,651 in 2013.
The latter, he said, has been obligated for the ballot printing and postage stamps needed to send absentee forms to off-island voters. The budget for fiscal year 2013 has yet to pass the Legislature.
Like in previous elections, the commission will send staff to the Northern Islands days before election day for early voters, Guerrero said. This will save the agency from spending too much if it uses a charter flight to the islands.
Saipan Tribune learned that the cost of sending a charter flight to the Northern Islands on election day itself is $14,000 compared to doing an early voting, which would cost only about $7,000.
The commission has five full-time employees, including the executive director. With a limited budget this fiscal year, Guerrero said they managed to “squeeze” the funds and are confident it will sustain the needs for the election.
Three trainees from the Workforce Investment Agency, he said, are helping out until after the election.
Meantime, Guerrero disclosed that the agency will start sending absentee ballots by mid-September, but he pointed out that only those who asked for one will be getting the ballots. Every election, the commission generates a new list of requests for absentee ballots.
As of this week, the commission is working on translating the two certified legislative initiatives that will go on the ballot. Printing and publication of informational materials will follow.
Guerrero said the two initiatives are House Legislative Initiative 17-2, which seeks to make the attorney general an elected position; and Senate Legislative Initiative 17-12, which seeks to authorize the Northern Marianas College's Board of Regents to revise NMC's mission statement.