By: L.N. Reklai
October 3, 2016 (Koror) TRO is denied and absentee ballots casted for the national primary election on September 27, 2016 will be counted today.
Court order denied granting of Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction to Richard Silmai, Joel Toribiong, Ephraim Ngirachitei, Moses Yobech, Israel Demei and Richard Sandei’s (plaintiffs) request to stop counting of absentee ballots received by the Palau Election Commission for the national primary election held last week.
According to the Court order, the plaintiffs request is denied based on the fact that it did not meet the legal standard for granting such request. Under the legal standard, the plaintiffs failed to show that they have a likelihood of success based on the merits of their case, that they will “suffer irreparable harm” if not granted injunction, and that public interest will be harmed if injunction is not granted.
In denying the plaintiffs motion, the court feels that the defendant’s (Palau Election Commission) argument is “thorough and compelling” and demonstrated that the plaintiffs failed to show that their interpretations of the laws governing this case will be adopted by the court.
Moreover, the court did not grant the TRO based on the plaintiffs argument that they will “suffer irreparable harm” if injunction is not granted. Assumption by the plaintiffs for this argument is that the court does not have the authority to invalidate the results of the election and order a new election once the ballots have been granted. The plaintiffs did not show proof that the court did not have such authority.
Defendants (PEC) argued that many on-island voters whose votes have already been counted would be invalidated if plaintiffs win on the merits of their arguments but those votes cannot be accounted for or identified now.
Plaintiffs attempt to justify Palau’s adoption of “single district” somehow changed the registration system failed because it did not address voters who registered before the “adoption of single senatorial district” or those voters who registered outside of Palau but voted in person in Palau.
Those votes have already been counted and it would cause a significant cost to the public if plaintiffs’ argument succeeds.
The court denied the request because it would not be in the public interest to grant such injunction. [/restrict]