CEC selects boat to get 19 votes from NI

CEC will deliver ballots to NI 3 to 5 days before Nov. 6 election

The Commonwealth Election Commission has chartered the boat that will deliver ballots and get the 19 votes from the Northern Islands three to five days before the Nov. 6 general election.

This comes as CEC disclosed last week that, of their two choices, the commission has selected the M/V Super Emerald of Norman Tenorio for a $20,900 contract.

CEC executive director Julita Villagomez said one company’s quotation was about $26,000 to $27,000, while the third company is “no longer doing boat charter service.”

When Saipan Tribune ran a story last Sept. 26 about CEC’s preparation to spend $26,000 to $27,000 to charter a boat to deliver ballots on the Northern Islands, Tenorio expressed shock about the cost.

In an email, Tenorio said M/V Super Emerald has been providing charter service to the Northern Islands for many years, but has never assessed the government or anyone else a rate of $27,000 for a three-day voyage.

At that time, Tenorio said the CEC has not invited their company to participate in the competitive bidding process.

Saipan Tribune learned last week that CEC subsequently chose Tenorio’s M/V Super Emerald.

Villagomez said the M/V Super Emerald will carry to the Northern Islands 10 passengers—one representative from the Office of the Public Auditor, two police officers, four poll workers (two each from the GOP and the Democratic Party), and three CEC staff.

The boat, Villagomez said, can take 18 passengers, but they will not allow hitchhikers.

CEC administrative officer Kayla Igitol said the last number they have is that there are 19 registered voters who are currently on the Northern Islands.

She said 14 are Northern Islands’ voters and the remaining five are voters from Precinct 4 of Saipan.

Precinct 4 covers Tanapag, San Roque, and Capital Hill.

Villagomez said it is expensive to get a few votes from Northern Islands, but that as long as there is one voter there, they have to go there and bring the ballots.

She recalled that in 2008, they hired a chopper for $12,000 to $15,000 to get just one vote from the Northern Islands.

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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