The Senate passed on first reading a bill that proposes to modernize and streamline the election process and provide a time limit for the counting of absentee ballots.

Senate Bill No. 10-117 stated on its legislative findings that the Olbiil Era Kelulau (OEK) had long been recognizing the need to update the election process and it cited the need to subject the Palau Elections Commission (PEC) to the Administrative Procedures Act to ensure the integrity of Palau’s voting system.

“The Olbiil Era Kelulau finds that because the members of the Commission are only human, this power threatens the fairness and objectiveness of all elections should a commission member’s politics become involved,” it read.

According to the legislative finding, allowing the counting of absentee votes to last up to a week after the election “detrimentally impairs the election system and creates an unnecessary delay in final results”.

It also stated that synchronizing the vote tallying will help simplify the process and address issues on election irregularities, and provide substantial cost savings.

With the bill, the PEC is proposed to appoint members of the election board, and prescribe and promulgate rules, regulations, and instructions for the conduct of the polls, and to review and examine voting irregularities or violation of any election laws, among others. (Rhealyn C. Pojas/Reporter)