Collection of signatures on petition to amend Palau’s National Constitution, to disallow absentee ballots,is ongoing although it will not meet the deadline to be included in the 2020 General Election.

“Therefore, if you wish to ensure that the vote occurs before the 2020 General Election, we recommend that you submit the signed petition no later than November 5, 2019.  If the signed petition is submitted after that date, the vote may not occur before the 2020 General Election,” stated Palau Election Commissions letter to Mr. Chilton.

The November 5th deadline for submitting the petition to Election Commission was not met but the proponents of the proposal insist that timing is not the issue but the proposal itself and whether or not it is acceptable to the Palauan people.

“The proposal is not tied to a particular timeline other than those prescribed by law.  We are taking our time to obtain signatures and get individual feedbacks on the proposal,” stated Chilton when asked about the petition status.

Once the petition acquires the required 25% of total registered voters’ signatures, it will be reviewed by the Election Commission and put up for public education process before a referendum to approve or reject the proposal is totake place.

Constitutional amendment adopted in 2008 referendum changed the language in the constitution to allow constitutional amendment to take place six months before General Election or six months after and is no longer required to be conducted at General Election.

The proposal to amend the Palau Constitution seeks to ban sending of absentee ballots outside of Palau during election except for few exceptions such asPalauan citizens attending school outside of Palau, citizen employees of Palau embassies and consulates, citizens on medical referrals and in active U.S. military service. (L.N. Reklai)