Gov. Ralph DLG Torres signed into law yesterday a bill that suspends certain CNMI election laws for the Nov. 3 general elections and another legislation that amends the election law to allow a member of the Commonwealth Election Commission to participate and vote in an official meeting through online.
The two bills, both authored by Sen. Sixto K. Igisomar (R-Saipan), were passed to mitigate the public health risks due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Torres informed Senate President Victor B. Hocog (R-Rota) and House Speaker Blas Jonathan Attao (R-Saipan) that he has signed into laws Senate Bill No. 21-68, SD2, HS1, and Senate Bill No. 21-67, SD1.
The governor said Senate Bill No. 21-68, SD2, HS1 becomes Public Law No. 21-34 and Senate Bill 21-67, SD1 becomes Public Law 21-33.
Public Law 21-34 will adjust the early voting time and add more polling places. It will extend the hours of operations for early voting and election day.
The law will also authorize CEC to collect absentee ballots seven days before the general elections and 14 days after.
The law will give the CEC flexibility to make changes to the election procedures if necessary to mitigate the public health risks due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Public Law 21-33 amends the election law to allow a member of CEC to appear, attend, participate, and vote in an official meeting using a telephone, video, or other electronic means due to COVID-19 situation.
Igisomar in an earlier interview said the election bills were really a combination of work between the CEC, his office, House Committee on Judiciary and Governmental Operations, and the leadership of Hocog in collaboration with the governor, and attorneys of the Office of the Attorney General and the Office of the Public Auditor.