CEC board certifies runoff poll results


Oscar M. Babauta, extreme right, who chairs the Inauguration Subcommittee for governor-elect Arnold I. Palacios and lieutenant governor-elect David M. Apatang, receives on behalf of Palacios and Apatang the certificates of election from Commonwealth Election Commission board chair Jesus I. Sablan and CEC executive director Kayla S. Igitol after the CEC board certified the Nov. 25 gubernatorial runoff race at the Pedro P. Tenorio Multi-Purpose Center in Susupe Friday. Also in the photo is a CEC staff. (FERDIE DE LA TORRE)

The Commonwealth Election Commission board certified Friday the results of the Nov. 25, 2022 gubernatorial runoff election after counting the 78 provisional absentee votes at the Pedro P. Tenorio Multi-Purpose Center in Susupe.

Fifty-six votes went to governor-elect Arnold I. Palacios and lieutenant governor-elect David M. Apatang, of the unified independent team, while 22 were received by Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and his running mate, Sen. Vinnie Vinson F. Sablan (R-Saipan), of the Republican Party.

At 5:12pm Friday, CEC executive director Kayla S. Igitol announced that, based on the official tabulation results, in total Palacios-Apatang garnered 7,394 votes, or 54.14% of the total votes, while Torres-Sablan received 6,263 votes, or 45.86%.

In the runoff race, Palacios-Apatang swept the votes in all 10 precincts on Saipan and prevailed in the absentee voting, or for a large margin 1,131 votes. Torres-Sablan won only in the Northern Islands, Tinian, and early voting.

A total of 13,657 votes were counted during the runoff election, while 14,750 in the Nov. 8 general elections, or a difference of 1,093.

In the general election, Torres-Sablan garnered 5,728 votes in all, or an 838-vote lead over Palacios-Apatang, which received 4,890 votes. Rep. Christina E. Sablan and her running mate, Rep. Leila F. Staffler, of the Democratic Party, got 4,132 votes. As Torres-Sablan obtained only 38.83% of the total votes, this paved the way for a square off between Palacios-Apatang and Torres-Sablan during the Nov. 25 runoff race.

CEC board chair Jesus I. Sablan said in an interview shortly after they certified the runoff election results Friday that overall he believes they did a good job.

Sablan said there were some issues that some people were raising concerning the tabulation process, but if they understand the process they would probably agree with them.

He said there was a delay in the counting of votes, but that it’s reasonable delay, especially the processing of the absentee votes as it was taking a lot of time.

“You just don’t take out the ballots and count it. We need to make sure that the affidavit is signed. We have to make sure that the ballot is inside the ballot envelope. We have to make sure that there is an affidavit there,” Sablan said.

The chairman said if those affidavits are missing, then the ballots are not counted.

“And after that is done, we have to take away the affidavit from the ballot, then we take out the envelope for processing,” he said.

Igitol said she feels relieved that four months of the general elections and runoff election have now come to an end. She commended her staff and the board for “doing an awesome job.”

She said they also appreciate the assistance of deputy attorney general Lillian A. Tenorio, the Office of the Public Auditor, and any agencies that helped coordinate throughout the elections.

“I’d like to thank them for their hard work too and their dedications throughout this election process,” Igitol said.

Former House of the Representatives speaker Oscar M. Babauta said that, on behalf of the Palacios-Apatang 2022 Committee to Elect, he is just elated that finally the chapter of this election is done.

“I’m just so happy that the results are all certified today. I’m so grateful to the staff and the commissioners of our Commonwealth Election Commission for their patience,” he said.

Babauta said he is aware that were some technical issues involved within the organization, but that they respect the process.

“I’m sure Arnold and Dave join me in thanking our Commonwealth Election Office for the tedious work that they’ve done,” he said.

Now that the election is finally over, the transition and inauguration are moving full speed ahead, Babauta said.

Babauta chairs the Palacios-Apatang Inauguration Subcommittee.

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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