‘Exercise your right to vote’

Against a backdrop of ruin left by a typhoon and a super typhoon, CNMI voters will troop today, Tuesday, to polling places to elect among 93 candidates a total of 45 positions, including the government’s top positions of governor and lieutenant governor.

Commonwealth Election Commission executive director Julita A. Villagomez said they are well prepared for today’s general election.

“Please exercise your right,” Villagomez urged voters.

As of last Oct. 5, there were 18,975 registered voters in the CNMI.

Yesterday was the last day of the seven-day early voting and Villagomez said it had a very good turnout.

A technician from the Nebraska-based company Election Systems and Software, with the assistance of CEC staff, has been working on the five tabulating machines. “They’d be ready for tomorrow,” Villagomez said.

During the six days of early voting, from Nov. 6 to Nov. 11, a total of 5,816 cast their votes in the CNMI, according to CEC.

Sen. Paul A. Manglona (Ind-Rota) was among those who beat the last day of early voting yesterday at the Pedro P. Tenorio Multi-Purpose Center in Susupe.

Manglona saw a lot of people yesterday. For him, it was a very good turnout.

“We want a high turnout because it will reflect the true sentiment of our voters in the community. I know that people are suffering, trying to get back on their feet, preparing their homes and cleaning their yards,” he said.

He said he is very appreciative of everyone for proceeding with the election, despite all the hard work that still needs to be done after the super typhoon’s destruction.

He said he heard there was a large turnout on Rota.

“This is an opportunity every two years for our…people to come and exercise their right to vote and make a difference in their government,” Manglona said.

In the 2016 election, Manglona voted on election day itself on Rota. For this year, there was a scheduled session at the Senate but that has been cancelled so he’s stuck on Saipan.

Manglona sees a need to change the law in the election process. “We don’t have to have a reason to come and vote early. They don’t have to let voters check a box as to the reason for early voting. …We should encourage everyone to vote early.”

Today, Tuesday, voters will decide whether to allow Gov. Ralph DLG Torres of the NMI Republican Party to continue to lead the Commonwealth, or pick former governor Juan N. Babauta.

Torres’ running mate is Senate President Arnold I. Palacios (R-Saipan), while Babauta’s running partner is former Education commissioner Dr. Rita A. Sablan.

Aside from the 45 positions, voters will also decide whether to retain on the bench CNMI Supreme Court Chief Justice Alexandro C. Castro and Superior Court Associate Judge Teresa Kim-Tenorio. Saipan Tribune did not include Castro and Kim-Tenorio on the list of the 93 candidates.

At this year’s poll, there will be no runoff election and Attorney General Edward Manibusan is a sure winner, having no one challenging his re-election bid as the Commonwealth’s top counsel. Tinian has also no candidate for the island’s Board of Education lone seat.

The ruling Republican Party has 33 candidates, while 41 are running as independents and two are from the Democratic Party. There are 17 non-partisan candidates, including Manibusan.

People will also decide whether to approve Delegate Kilili Camacho Sablan’s (Ind-MP) election for a sixth term as the CNMI’s non-voting representative to the U.S. Congress, or choose a younger politician, Rep. Angel A. Demapan (R-Saipan).

In the Saipan mayoral race, voters will judge whether Mayor David M. Apatang, another Republican candidate, should be re-elected, or this time select Ramon Blas Camacho, an independent.

In the Tinian mayoral race, people will vote either the Republican Party’s Edwin Palacios Aldan or Henry Hofschneider San Nicolas, an independent.

In the crowded race in Rota’s mayoral race, people will judge if Mayor Efraim M. Atalig (Republican), who is facing corruption charges in federal and local courts, should be re-elected or select any of his four independent challengers: Steve King Mesngon, Julie Marie Ogo Manglona, Richard Evangelista Taisacan, or Crispin Ayuyu.

For the Northern Islands, people have two choices—the Republican Party’s Diego Litulumar Kaipat or the independent incumbent Mayor Vicente Cruz Santos Jr.

People will also vote for six Senate seats—two each for Saipan, Tinian, and Rota. For the House, there are 20 seats.

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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