By: Olkeriil Ngirudelsang

At last Wednesday’s press conference Vice President J. Uduch Senior made clear that she supports Palau Election Commission (PEC)’s decision to eliminate central polling places saying that their decision should be respected because they are the ones handling the work.

On the 21st of March, a notice was put out by PEC informing the public of its decision to remove certain central polling places saying that “all state and national elections will be conducted in appropriate polling places within each polling precincts; with the exception of the states of Kayangel, Peleliu, Angaur, Sonsorol, and Hatohobei”. Per this announcement, any state in Babeldaob that will hold state election, its registered voters must cast their votes in that particular state. This also applies to national elections. In any national election, all voters must also cast their votes at the respective states where they are registered. All of Palau’s outlying states are exempted from this directive.

While PEC intended to begin this new practice at Ngaraard’s State upcoming general election on November 11th, the House of Delegates conducted an oversight hearing last Tuesday and opposed this plan.

HOD expressed concerned that eliminating central polling places might cause low voting turnout, PEC contended saying it will prevent the possibility of double voting and reduce election cost.

“If all attempts of double voting before had all been caught prior to the publication of election results, I don’t see why the elimination of central boxes to stop possible double voting is even a problem” stated Kayangel delegate Noah Kemesong who was PEC’s most vocal opposition at the oversight hearing.

Speaker Sabino Anastacio also commented that “we will find funds to give you if that is what you need” in reference to PEC’s report that eliminating central polling places will save the country a little more than 27,000 dollars.

At this week’s press conference, VP Senior said “let’s respect that body; the decision of Palau Election Commission”. “I believe they(PEC) considered all factors in making this very hard decision,” she added.

While the House of Delegates was opposing Palau Election Commission’s decision to eliminate central polling places, PEC conducted its first townhall meeting on this issue in Ngaraard State on May. Almost all who attended that townhall meeting supported Palau Election Commission’s move to stop central election boxes.

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