2ND DAY OF EARLY VOTING

Big turnout seen

623 cast their votes on Saipan, Tinian, Rota

A large number of voters turned up yesterday during the second day of the seven-day early voting period on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota.

According to Commonwealth Election Commission administrative officer Kayla Igitol, 623 cast their votes on the three islands yesterday.

At the Pedro P. Tenorio Multi-Purpose Center in Susupe, 467 Saipan and Northern Islands voters cast their votes. A total of 11 voters from Tinian went to the polling place, while 24 from Rota voted, for a total of 502 voters, Igitol said.

At the Department of Public Safety on Tinian, 43 cast their votes, while 78 voted at DPS on Rota, Igitol said.

CEC executive director Julita A. Villagomez said yesterday’s number of voters is a big turnout, comparable to the first day of early voting during a gubernatorial election.

Police captain Lawrence Camacho said yesterday that early voting has been going smoothly on the three islands.

As of 2:15pm yesterday, 393 have already voted on Saipan.

On the first day of early voting on Tuesday, 581 trooped to designated polling places. CEC considered that number a good turnout as it’s a midterm election and it was All Saints’ Day.

There are 17,930 registered voters in the CNMI.

Camacho said he already dispatched one Saipan police officer to Tinian and another Saipan police officer to Rota because election on the two islands is usually “heavy.”

A Saipan police officer has been assigned each on Tinian and Rota and they will be assisted by three other police officers from each of the two islands, said Camacho

Camacho has been designated by DPS as election operation commander.

Camacho said the two Saipan officers will return to Saipan on Nov. 8 when they escort the ballot boxes from Tinian and Rota for final counting at the Multi-Purpose Center.

Camacho said the assigned officers on Tinian and Rota have been communicating with them on Saipan.

“So far it’s good,” Camacho.

At the Multi-Purpose Center’s parking lot, police tell some voters who have political stickers on their vehicles to either remove them or park beyond 300 feet from the polling place.

“That’s the election law. The CEC let us know about the law and we enforce it,” Camacho said.

He said not allowing political stickers or banners within 300 feet from a polling place is good because it reduces any commotion from political parties and their supporters.

Two police officers are assigned inside the Multi-Purpose Center while another is posted outside.

On Nov. 8 itself, Camacho said he will assign two to three police officers at every polling precinct on Saipan.

On top of that, Camacho said, police officers will also be roving to conduct spot checks or serve as troubleshooters.

Camacho said police officers will also be escorting the ballot boxes and poll workers in the buses on their way to the polling places from the Multi-Purpose Center and back for the tabulation.

“They have to eyeball the boxes,” Camacho said.

Ignacia Igisaiar, a 54-year-old house worker, said early voting is faster and there are less people and less traffic.

Igisaiar, a voter from Precinct 1 or the Koblerville area, said she did not vote on the first day of early voting on Tuesday because she went to the cemetery for All Saints Day.

Igisaiar has been an early voter in past elections.

For Vicenta Sanchez, a 24-year-old housewife, it was her first time to vote early yesterday and that she likes it because it’s faster and there was no crowding at the polling place.

Sanchez, a voter from Precinct 1 or the Koblerville area, said her cousin invited her to try early voting. She was supposed to vote on Tuesday but no one would watch her 5-year-old son at home.

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Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a veteran journalist who has covered all news beats in the CNMI. Born in Lilo-an, Cebu City in the Philippines, De la Torre graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He is a recipient of many commendations and awards, including the CNMI Judiciary’s prestigious Justice Award for his over 10 years of reporting on the judiciary’s proceedings and decisions. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@saipantribune.com

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