Four states will hold special elections next month to find replacements for former state legislators who resigned in order to serve as full-time law enforcement officers.

According to the Palau Election Commission, four states–Kayangel, Ngarchelong, Aimeliik, and Hatohobei–will hold elections on the same day, March 11, 2022. The nominating petition deadline for all four states is February 25. The deadline for registering voters is also February 25, 2022.

Each state had to inform the Palau Election Commission of the vacancy and request for PEC to conduct the special elections.

Aimeliik State Governor Browny Simer’s letter to the Palau Election Commission stated that the position of a legislator-at-large has become vacant, and per Aimeliik Constitution Article VI, Section 3(a) and Aimeliik State Public Law 7-05, if a vacancy occurs and 180 days remain on the term, a special election must take place within 30 days.

“Although our Constitution calls for the Special Election to be conducted by my office, it is undisputed that it is the Election Commission alone that has the proper authority to conduct the election,” stated Governor Simer. “That being said, please take necessary steps to ensure that a Special Election takes place accordingly.”

The Bureau of Public Safety of the Ministry of Justice last year issued a memorandum to all law enforcement officers that held elected offices to choose between their jobs as law enforcement officers and as elected officials, in order to comply with BPS Rules and Regulations.

Five of the six officers decided to give up their elected positions and maintain their law enforcement roles. Such decisions created vacancies in the state legislatures where they held elected positions, resulting in the call for Special Elections.

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