CEC starts process for runoff polls

Inos-Torres wins with a big margin against Hofschneider-Yumul

The Commonwealth Election Commission started yesterday afternoon the gubernatorial runoff process with the ballot slot drawing between the Gov. Eloy S. Inos/Ralph DLG. Torres tandem and Heinz Hofschneider/Ray N. Yumul team after they emerged as the Top 2 vote getters among four contenders in Tuesday’s biggest election in CNMI history.

Inos and Torres, the Republican Party standard-bearer, won with a 1,841-margin over the independent tandem of Hofschneider-Yumul, based on the unofficial tally of the Commonwealth Election Commission.

Supporters celebrate with Gov. Eloy S. Inos and Senate President Ralph DLG. Torres at their campaign headquarters on Middle Road after the final tally were counted Wednesday morning, showing that their team dominated Tuesday’s general election. (Mark Rabago)

Supporters celebrate with Gov. Eloy S. Inos and Senate President Ralph DLG. Torres at their campaign headquarters on Middle Road after the final tally were counted Wednesday morning, showing that their team dominated Tuesday’s general election. (Mark Rabago)

Inos and Torres garnered a total of 6,342 votes, while Hofschneider and Yumul got a total of 4,501. A total of 13,798 votes were cast in this general elections.

The Inos-Torres machinery got only 46.6 percent of the total votes cast, just about 4 percentage points less than the required 50 percent-plus-one that would have resulted in their team being declared the outright winner, preventing a runoff election.

The Inos-Torres team was victorious in all election districts except three.

The independent team of former governor Juan N. Babauta and Juan S. Torres was a distant third place with only 2,414 votes. They only won one election district, Tanapag.

Edward M. Deleon Guerrero-Daniel O. Quitugua of the Democratic Party got only 541 total votes.

For the upcoming gubernatorial runoff race, Inos-Torres will be No. 1 on the ballot, on the left side, while Hofschneider-Yumul will be No. 2 on the right side.

David Attao, chairman of the committee-to-elect Hofschneider-Yumul, and Greg M. Camacho, chairman of the committee-to-elect Inos-Torres, met with Commonwealth Election Commission executive director Robert A. Guerrero for the slot drawing at the CEC office yesterday afternoon.

Guerrero told the parties the CEC board will be meeting on Friday at 9am to certify the results of the elections.

On behalf of Hofschneider, Attao said they’re just excited that the voters came out and exercised their right to vote.

“We’re honored and very humbled that people voted for us and they continue to believe in Heinz and Ray and they’re making the right choice,” Attao said.

He said they congratulate the winners and, for those who did not make it, they’re asking them to join forces with them so the CNMI can move forward.

Several calls made to Babauta and Deleon Guerrero yesterday were not answered.

CEC board chair Frances Sablan said they will decide when to hold the runoff race soon after they certify the results because they will need to print out the ballots and mail them to absentee voters.

After CEC executive director Guerrero announced the final set of votes from absentee voters at 8:10am on Wednesday, he and the seven board members were applauded by the people who attended the counting at the Pedro P. Tenorio Multi-Purpose Center.

Reporters and some candidates’ supporters immediately grabbed calculators to check if the Inos-Torres tandem got 50 percent plus one of the total votes cast, since the Inos team got 1,186 absentee votes while Hofschneider received only 649.

After figuring out from calculations that Inos-Torres almost prevented a runoff because of the large margin they got, people in the center were still uncertain if there will be a runoff or not because the results were too close.

After a few minutes, people got an answer when CEC board chair Sablan confirmed to the media in an interview that there will be a runoff.

Sablan said that Inos-Torres and Hofschneider-Yumul, the two top vote-getters, did not meet the 50 percent plus one requirement to avoid a runoff.

“From what I gathered, Inos was short of 400 to 500 votes,” Sablan said.

CEC started tabulating the votes close to midnight due to some glitches, including the lack of tabulation papers on Rota.

CEC executive director Guerrero announced the first results, which were from early voting for Saipan, at 12:40am. The Rota ballots arrived at 1:30am.

The results of the early voting for Saipan set up the trend in favor of Inos-Torres when they got 1,849, while Hofschneider-Yumul had 1,087. Babauta-Torres received 766 and Deleon Guerrero-Quitugua got 145.

Inos-Torres’ 762-vote lead went up when results of the voting in Election District 1A (San Antonio) were announced. Inos-Torres got 190 votes compared to Hofschneider-Yumul’s 129.

When Election District 1B (San Vicente) votes were counted, Inos-Torres’ 823-lead increased when the team got 421, while Hofschneider-Yumul garnered 381.

Inos-Torres’ 863-lead widened a bit when the team got 236 votes compared to 153 for Hofschneider-Yumul from Election District IC (Koblerville).

Inos-Torres continued the trend when the team got 252, while Hofschneider-Yumul received 203 votes from Election District 2 (Chalan Kanoa/Susupe).

The governor team’s overall lead breached the 1,000 mark when the votes were counted from Election District 3A(San Jose/Oleai). He got 159 votes, while Hofschneider obtained 134.

Inos’ 1,020 lead slightly increased when he and Torres got 126 compared to Hofschneider-Yumul’s 119.

For the first time, Hofschneider-Yumul tasted a win in a polling place when the votes from Election District 4B (San Roque) were counted. Hofschneider got 154, while Inos-Torres got only 90.

Inos-Torres immediately bounced back when the team got 78 votes from Election District 4C (Capital Hill). Hofschneider got 64.

Inos-Torres got an additional 4 votes from Election District 4D (Northern Islands). Hofschneider received 2 votes.

In the hotly contested Election District 3B (Garapan), the two contenders had a close fight. Inos-Torres got 426, while Hofschneider-Yumul had 423.

Inos maintained his overall lead after getting 464 votes from Election District 5 (Kagman); Hofschneider got 450.

Inos-Torres team was strong in Rota with 260 votes. Hofschneider-Yumul got 104. With the Rota votes, Inos already enjoyed a 1,149-lead.

When the early votes from Rota came in, Inos’ lead further widened—he got 259 compared to 97 for Hofschneider.

Tinian gave Hofschneider-Yumul the second and last victory in an election district with 268 votes. But it was not big enough because Inos-Torres also had 249 votes.

Inos-Torres immediately countered when the Tinian early votes were counted and the team got 93, while Hofschneider got 84.

By then people who were watching the counting were already talking of a runoff as there was only one left uncounted—the absentee ballots, a known bailiwick of Hofschneider. Inos-Torres, however, got a surprisingly strong 1,186 votes compared to only 649 for Hofschneider-Yumul.

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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