By: L.N. Reklai
(Koror, Palau) “No, it is not true that people had walked in to Palau Election Commission hand carrying ballots,” stressed Elenita Brel, Temporary Administrator for Palau Election Commission. “We have had only one girl who received her ballot while in United States, voted and then brought her ballot with her to Palau and brought it to Palau Election Commission so we told her we can’t accept her ballot. We told her that it had to be post marked,” added Brel.
Rumors have been going around in Palau saying that packages of absentee ballots have been brought in from outside and hand carried to Palau Election Commission, adding to further confusion and discord in the community.
Ms. Brel stated that this is blatantly false with exception of that one young voter that they had to reject. “I think she went to mail her ballot at Palau’s post office. The law is clear on receiving of absentee ballots. They had to have a post marked by Post Office or mail courier. They can’t be accepted without a post mark,” stated Ms. Brel.
When asked how many of the 3,900 ballots sent out have been received, Ms. Brel replied that they don’t know how many absentee ballots have been received to date because they are not opening the packages containing the ballots.
“We just log in the date of receipt and the packages of ballots or envelopes are placed in the ballot boxes inside the storage container to be opened on the day of the tabulation,” added Ms. Brel.
A tent has been set up in front of the Election Commission for police officers who are providing 24/7 security for the ballot boxes and overseeing the process of receiving absentee ballots. The police officers are also escorting mail from post office to the Palau Election Commission.
Surangel Whipps Jr.’s Tabulation Committee and Senator Uduch Senior had earlier written letters asking for greater oversight over the process of handling absentee ballots. Senior had requested that the Attorney General request for an injunction order for PEC to separate certain absentee ballots. [/restrict]