Early voting starts smoothly

3,613 registered voters for Precinct 3; polling place opens today
A Precinct 3 resident casts her vote at the Pedro P. Tenorio Multi-Purpose Center in Susupe last Saturday

A Precinct 3 resident casts her vote at the Pedro P. Tenorio Multi-Purpose Center in Susupe last Saturday, which was the start of the seven-day early voting for the Oct. 16 special election. The start of early voting went on smoothly. The polling place is open today, Monday. (FERDIE DE LA TORRE)

The seven-day early voting for the special election started smoothly last Saturday at the Pedro P. Tenorio Multi-Purpose Center in Susupe.
As of 3:10pm Saturday, 188 persons have already voted for either Corina L. Magofna of the NMI Democratic Party, or for Grace “Pitu” Sablan Vaiagae of the NMI Republican Party. Supporterrs of both candidates were camped out across the road from the Multi-Purpose Center.

Elizabeth Tomokane, 1994 Miss CNMI Universe, was among the early voters. She said she decided to vote early to avoid the crowd.

“It’s good, it’s very fast,” she said about the early voting process.

Without naming the candidate that she voted for, Tomokane said she gives her a chance to be a part of the decision-making to represent them—the constituents.

“Hopefully she can do a better job than what the others are doing,” she added.

The special election is being held to fill the House of Representatives Precinct 3 seat left vacant by the sudden passing of representative Ivan A. Blanco last July 23.

For the early voting, the voting hours will be from 8:30am to 4pm. Early voting, which will end on Oct. 15, includes Sunday and even today, Monday which is a Cultural Day holiday, according Commonwealth Election Commission executive director Kayla S. Igitol.

Igitol said Saturday there are 3,613 voters for Precinct 3 and that they already mailed out forms for 39 absentee voters.

She said those absentee ballots have to be at the U.S. Postal Office by election day on Oct. 16.

Igitol said they printed 3,900 ballots.

The executive director said the commissioners will tabulate the votes manually at the Pedro P. Tenorio Multi-Purpose Center.

“We hope to get the results before midnight or at least 11:30pm [on Oct. 16],” Igitol said.

The executive director said they have not encountered major challenges so far as the election is very smooth.

Igitol urged Precinct 3 voters to exercise their right to vote. “We’re up to par with COVID-19 guidelines. We sanitize everything,” she said.

The executive director said voters have seven days to do the early voting. If they are unable to do so, they can come in on election day on Oct. 16 from 7am to 7pm.

For the special election day, the designated polling places are:

– Oleai Elementary School cafeteria for Precinct 3A (San Jose).

– Garapan Elementary School cafeteria for Precincts 3B-1 (Garapan) and 3B-2 (Garapan).

Igitol said Department of Public Safety police officers are stationed at the polling place to maintain order.

She said Office of the Public Auditor staff are also observing at the polling venue.

Voters must ensure that they bring with them a pictured identification card as they will be required to present it in order to be issued a ballot at the polling sites.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com
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