20 Nov 2018
- By Cherrie Anne E. Villahermosa – [email protected] – Variety News Staff
THE NMI Democratic Party has asked the Commonwealth Election Commission to explain “several significant irregularities” in the recently concluded general elections.
The party fielded two House candidates, who both lost, and endorsed several Independents, including U.S. Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan who won by a landslide.
In a letter to the CEC, copies of which were provided to the media by attorney Stephen Woodruff, the Democratic Party said “it appears…that errors may have been made of such a magnitude so as to affect the integrity of the election results,” and that “in order to properly evaluate these concerns, we need immediate answers to some questions and immediate access to certain documents and records.”
The party said “observers of the recent elections indicated that ballots were removed from public view at the counting center, placed behind a curtain or in a backroom and opened with an unknown number of commissioners and observers present.”
“Please explain why this was done and how the CEC complied with relevant election laws and regulations. Please also provide a detailed step-by-step timetable of actions taken and pertinent events from the close of the polls until 5 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 16, 2018.”
The party said the law required that the ballots must not be left unattended and must always be in the presence of at least two commissioners and any appropriate observers.
Moreover, the ballot boxes “must only be received by the executive director or her designee and must be unsealed and opened in such a fashion to protect the integrity and sanctity of the election process.”
The party said according to its observers, early votes were sorted and combined with ballots from seven election districts prior to tabulation and contrary to long-standing CEC practice.
It added that all ballots from all districts may have been intermingled prior to tabulation.
“If so, what is the justification for this change in practice?” the party asked.
The party also questioned the delay of more than 10 hours in the announcement of partial results, and the delay in the posting of the results on the commission’s website as well as their appearance as certified rather than unofficial results.
The party noted that the tabulation results were not reported on a sub-precinct level. It also questioned the manner in which the commission certified the results.
“Exactly when did the commission certify the election results? Is there documentation of this action?” the party asked.
The party wants the commission to provide access to all documents and records pertaining to the procurement, shipping and receipt of ballots; all documents pertaining to the verification of the quantities of ballots received from the printer; documents and records pertaining to the distribution of ballots to polling places and return of ballots to the CEC from polling places; voter registration lists used to check off voters as they came to the polls and obtained their ballots; the number of voters processed each hour at each polling place on each day of voting; all used, spoiled and defaced and unused ballots; and all reconciliation records relating to numbers of voters, ballots cast and unused ballots; and all other pertinent documents relating to the election process.
The party said it expects to be allowed to inspect the ballots starting with those from the Northern Islands and Precinct 5 by Tuesday morning.
Source: Marianas Variety : http://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/108975-democrats-complain-about-election-irregularities