Palau Election Commission says it is not required to investigate whether a write-in candidate qualifies or not before and during elections because the law does not mandate them to do so.

Responding to a complaint filed with Palau Election Commission by John Mengidab, one of the gubernatorial candidates of Ngaraard State in the recent primary election, who alleged that PEC did not comply with Ngaraard State Law NSPL 5-25 that requires all candidates running for public office to obtain a drug test before becoming a candidate.

Mr. Mengidab had asked PEC to explain why it did not disqualify or verify a write-in candidate Sharp Sakuma in compliance with NSPL 5-25.

He expressed that Ngaraard State law is explicit that a person seeking office should take a drug test and show negative results before an election which the write-in candidate did not do.

Palau Election Commission cited in its response letter of September 21, 2021, to Mengidab, Title 23 Section 1107 which states in part, “The Election Commission shall examine the nomination papers of all candidates and…investigate all candidates to ensure that all the qualifications of the office have been met.”

PEC said that they are mandated by law only to examine nomination papers and write-in candidates do not file nomination papers.  Title 23 PNCA Section 1105(c) “Nothing contained in this section shall prohibit a person from seeking office as a write-in candidate except a name written upon a ballot in a runoff election shall not be counted as a vote.”

Furthermore, it said, “In the absence of requirements or procedures for write-in candidates in Ngaraard State Constitution and State laws, PEC follows Title 23 PNCA.”

Mr. Mengidab asked whether the write-in candidate who has won the primary and will be on the general election ballot should comply with Ngaraard State law on drug testing.

PEC responded saying, “The role of the PEC to examine and investigate candidates’ qualification is done when nominating petitions are submitted and before elections.  As the requirement to file a nominating petition form does not apply to write-in candidates, PEC was therefore not required to examine or investigate said write-in candidate’s qualifications before or even after the Ngaraard State Primary election.”

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