By: L.N. Reklai
November 2, 2016 (Koror) The race to Olbiil ra Kelulau (OEK), the national congress, was as heated as the contest for highest seat in the national government. Palau population was glued to their radios, tv, phones, and facebook, both in Palau and around the world, keeping tab on every single drop or increase in their candidates numbers.
National issues were central to this election. The issues were raised by citizens through social media, news and public forums and had the voters scrutinizing their candidates to national legislature.
The race for the senate had 25 senate candidates. Of the 25, 8 are incumbent senators, 1 is incumbent delegate, 5 were former OEK members, 2 were former ministers, and 9 are new entrants. The list also contains 6 female candidates, the largest contingent of women to ever run for Senate seats.
The House of Delegates had some historical firsts with four women candidates on the ballot and 2 that were running as write-in candidates. Six of the 16 States seats were uncontested and one State had five candidates vying for one seat.
This is the first Palau national race that was fought across villages, oceans, and countries with the new technological advancements. Likewise, the election and tabulation were broadcasted live on radio waves, on television, on the internet and on social media.
Unofficial result for the senate currently have Steven Kuartei, Mason Whipps, Frank Kyota, Aric Nakamura, Mark Rudimch, Hokkons Baules, Phillip Reklai, Uduch Senior, Regis Akitaya, John Skebong, Alan Marbou, Rukebai Inabo, and Kerai Mariur on the top 13 of the list. Following closely is Camsek Chin, Faustina Rehuher, Steven Kanai, Alan Seid, Seit Andres, Satoru Adachi, Santy Asanuma, Surech Bells, Rebecca Ngirmechaet, Joan Tarkong, and Greg Ngirmang in the order from top to bottom.
With 2,900 absentee ballots at stake, the order may shift but political observers state that it may not shift too drastically than what was reflected from the local election. [/restrict]