Election law fix is needed for Saipan senator special election

Senate president poised to officially notify governor today of vacancy

Senate President Ralph Torres (R-Saipan) said yesterday that he will officially notify Gov. Eloy S. Inos today of a vacancy in the Senate following floor leader Ray Yumul’s resignation but either the governor waits longer to declare a special election or the election law will have to be amended to ensure it coincides with the Nov. 4 general elections for cost and logistics considerations.

If and when the governor immediately proclaims a special election, that would fall on a date much earlier than Nov. 4.

But Commonwealth Election Commission executive director Robert A. Guerrero recommended that both the special election and the general election be held on the same day on Nov. 4, considering that each election costs some $70,000 to $80,000.

But just the same, Sen. Pete Reyes (Ind-Saipan) mulls introducing a bill that will prohibit those who have already been certified as candidates for the two Saipan senatorial seat to run for a special election related to the third Saipan senatorial seat that Yumul vacated.

Currently, there is nothing in the law that prohibits any of the seven candidates for the two Saipan senatorial seats from submitting their candidacy also for the third seat once the governor proclaims a special election, Reyes said yesterday.

“What if the same individual wins on both general election and special election? The law has to be amended,” Reyes said.

Yumul resigned almost a week after his candidacy for lieutenant governor was certified on August 13.

Article 8 Section 5 of the NMI Constitution reads, “Resignation from Public Office. An elected public official shall resign from office upon certification to be a candidate for another public office, if the term of the office sought begins before the end of the term of the office held.”

Election Commission’s Guerrero said the governor could also wait until early September to proclaim a special election, to ensure it coincides with the Nov. 4 general elections.

Under Public Law 12-18, “Special elections subject to the call of the Governor shall be held on a date set by the Governor which shall be no less than 30 days nor more than 60 days from the date of the proclamation provided for in Section 6502. The Governor shall also set the time limit within which polling places may be designated and declarations of candidates and nominating petitions may be filed.”

The other option is to amend the law to extend the 60-day period so that a special election could be held also on Nov. 4.

The CNMI is actually headed for three elections this year—the general election and a special election to fill the Senate vacancy left by Yumul, and a likely gubernatorial runoff race, given that it would be hard to get at least 50 percent plus one of the votes cast among four gubernatorial teams.

Today, the Senate will hold a session mainly to tackle the fiscal year 2015 budget bill that the Senate Fiscal Affairs Committee has been working on for weeks. Yesterday, the committee worked way past office hours to ensure the budget bill will be acted on in today’s session.

Haidee V. Eugenio | Reporter
Haidee V. Eugenio has covered politics, immigration, business and a host of other news beats as a longtime journalist in the CNMI, and is a recipient of professional awards and commendations, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s environmental achievement award for her environmental reporting. She is a graduate of the University of the Philippines Diliman.

Related Posts

Disclaimer: Comments are moderated. They will not appear immediately or even on the same day. Comments should be related to the topic. Off-topic comments would be deleted. Profanities are not allowed. Comments that are potentially libelous, inflammatory, or slanderous would be deleted.