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REPORTERS’ NOTEBOOK

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Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) voted with his wife, Andrea, at the Garapan Elementary School yesterday at 9am. Sablan also announced to the media and poll workers at the main entrance of the polling site that it was also Andrea’s birthday that day. Andrea immediately received cheers and birthday greetings. Kilili was wearing his lucky blue Hawaiian shirt that Andrea bought for him at Joeten in 2008. Every time Kilili runs for re-election, he wears the same shirt. (Ferdie De La Torre)

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The front of the Joeten-Kiyu Public Library, which is the polling site for Precinct 2, was very lively as both Republican Party and Democratic Party camps played mostly reggae and local songs. Some of the candidates’ supporters would dance on the side of the road as they waved to motorists and voters. Democratic Party chair Nola Hix, who is pregnant, stopped her car on the side of the road and danced to Flo Rida’s hit, Low. (Ferdie De La Torre)

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This year’s election was much calmer compared to the 2018 gubernatorial elections. Covering two years ago, I remember dozens of people along the streets campaigning in support of their candidate. This year, it seemed as though you could count the number of people who were campaigning along the streets with the fingers on your hands and feet. The COVID-19 may have had a hand in it. (Kimberly Bautista)

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This year’s election was definitely much stricter than the last. Right when you approach the registration table in front of the voting area, you are immediately stopped and asked what your business is. Being part of the media, I was immediately told that no one but the supervisor was allowed to speak with me. Even then, the poll supervisors seemed hesitant to go on record to talk about the results of this year’s election. (Kimberly Bautista)

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Voting precincts were nearly empty compared to last election season. In the 2018 gubernatorial elections, voting precincts were packed with people ready and eager to vote. This year, there were close to no one there, the place mostly consisted of poll staff. (Kimberly Bautista)

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This election season was a different experience, not only because of the pandemic, but because I went in as a reporter and not a citizen. Being the introvert that I am, I followed another reporter to Garapan Elementary School to get an idea of how my interview should go. As soon as we approached the staff at GES, we were immediately told that we couldn’t take pictures or videos, and the staff could not comment on the voting process. (Justine Nauta)

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When I came back from the United States, when I was like 12 years old, I would follow my parents around to see the crowds of people on the side of the road participating in roadside waving. At the time, it was very new to me because I’ve never seen that in the U.S. mainland. This year, however, there weren’t a lot of people under one tent and because I was in the northern side of the island, I didn’t see much people on the road either. I was pleased to see that the community was actually following the social distancing rule. Also, with the COVID-19 rules, almost every site I went to immediately checked people’s temperatures and made sure they were at the appropriate distance. (Justine Nauta)

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When I went to the Kagman Community Center for an interview with one of the poll supervisors, Barbara Iglesias, I saw a local guy in his mid-50s holding a Trump 2020 sign. Ditto for huge placard located in a private lot on the road going up San Vicente that that states the same message. (Justine Nauta)

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Eleven months working under Saipan Tribune as a reporter, every time I tried to take a candid picture of someone, they would hide from the camera. It was different this time, when I went to KCC, where people on the side of the road wanted me to take their pictures, and I did not hesitate to do so. (Justine Nauta)

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After I took a picture of the crowd on the side of the road, a guy came up to me to ask if I chew betel nut. When I said no, he laughed and walked away. An odd interaction, but I think he was going to offer me betel nut because he had a bag full of something. I initially thought it would be food, but even if it was, I still would’ve declined. You can never be too careful. (Justine Nauta)

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