‘Exercise your right to vote’

Out-of-ordinary election where voters have to wear face masks, observe social distancing

With almost everything about this year’s general election being out of the ordinary—starting with a campaign period that had to comply with social distancing protocols and candidates relying on social media to connect with voters amid the global COVID-19 pandemic—thousands of CNMI voters will be required today to wear face coverings when they troop to polling places to choose from 68 candidates those who will go on to occupy 39 positions, including a delegate to the U.S. Congress, a justice, and two judges.

Commonwealth Election Commission executive director Julita A. Villagomez assured that they are prepared for today’s general elections.

Voting will start at 7am and end at 7pm. Tabulation and counting of ballots will follow at the Pedro P. Tenorio Multi-Purpose Center in Susupe.

“Come out and vote please. Exercise your right,” Villagomez said.

According to CEC, there are 18,526 active registered voters in the CNMI.

Precinct 6 or Tinian and Aguiguan has 1,724 registered voters, while Precinct 7 or Rota has 1,931.

Yesterday was the last day of early voting.

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, who availed of early voting process Saturday, urged people to exercise their right to vote.

Villagomez reminded voters to bring with them a photo identification card as they will be required to present that in order to be issued a ballot at the polling sites.

She also asked voters to wear face masks.

Villagomez said that, although the last election in 2018 was difficult due to the electric power issue after Super Typhoon Yutu’s massive destruction, this year too is not easy as CEC and voters have to meet safety protocols imposed by the COVID-19 Task Force.

“There are a lot of…requirements from the COVID-19 task force to follow,” she said.

Villagomez said they never had these things in previous elections; things like constantly sanitizing polling places, observing social distancing, and wearing face masks.

“We’ve suffocated [by] the mask. We just get used to it,” she said.

Villagomez described this year’s election as something extraordinary. “We have to observe social distancing. We cannot hug family members when we see them. We have to abide with the COVID-19 task force [rules],” she said.

Delegate Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (Ind-MP) is a sure winner as he is running unopposed for a seventh term.

Voters will decide whether to retain on the bench Supreme Court Associate Justice Perry B. Inos, Superior Court Presiding Judge Roberto C. Naraja, and Associate Judge Kenneth L. Govendo.

At this year’s election, the two-political party system is alive again in the CNMI as the NMI Democratic Party has 18 candidates, which is a first time in over four decades.

Today, voters will decide whether to allow the NMI Republican Party to dominate the election again, or elect the Democratic Party’s bets that include nine women running for the Legislature, which is historic in the Commonwealth.

For Saipan Senate, Sen. Sixto Kaipat Igisomar, who is seeking re-election under the Republican Party, will square off against former Labor secretary Edith E. Deleon Guerrero of the Democratic Party.

For Tinian Senate, it’s a battle between Karl Rosario King-Nabors (Republican) and Jose Pangelinan Cruz (Democrat).

For Rota Senate, former Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services commissioner Dennis James Mendiola (Republican) is challenging the re-election bid of seasoned politician Sen. Paul A. Manglona independent.

For Saipan House of Representatives, it’s a crowded race in Precinct 1 as there are 14 candidates battling for six positions.

For precincts 2 and 4, there are two positions and four candidates each.

For Precinct 3, voters will vote for no more than six, but there are 10 candidates, including House Speaker Blas Jonathan Tenorio Attao (R-Saipan).

For Precinct 5, there are two positions and five candidates.

For Precinct 6 or Tinian, voters will select between Patrick Hofschneider San Nicolas of the Republican Party and Frederick Arend Dela Cruz, a Democrat.

For Precinct 7 or Rota, it’s a battle between Rep. Donald M. Manglona (Ind-Rota) and Commonwealth Ports Authority board member Barrie C. Toves, a Republican.

For Saipan Municipal Council, Ana Demapan Castro and Antonia Manibusan Tudela are sure winners as there are three positions.

For Tinian Municipal Council, there are five candidates for three positions.

For Rota Municipal Council, it’s a crowded race as six are running for three positions.

For Board of Education representing Saipan, there are two positions but three candidates—attorney Stephen C. Woodruff, Maisie Bermudes Tenorio, and Gregory Pat Borja.

There is no candidate for BOE representing Tinian. But for BOE representing Rota, Herman Manglona Atalig is the only candidate for the lone position.

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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