12 Jan 2012

Candidates challenge Marshall Islands election results

9:22 am on 12 January 2012

Three candidates who lost elections in the Marshall Islands as a result of off-island postal votes have filed a joint challenge in the High Court.

If the challenges are successful, they could change the outcome of several parliament and mayoral contests.

A fourth candidate, the son of former President and Chief Imata Kabua, has also filed suit challenging his loss for Kwajalein mayor based on postal absentee ballots from the United States.

Parliament incumbents Amenta Matthew of Utrik and Gerald Zackios of Arno, and Bikini mayoral candidate Eldon Note - who were leading in their respective islands prior to the postal count - have asked the High Court to rule on the legality of Chief Electoral Officer Joseph Jorlang counting postal ballots that were not properly notarized.

Most postal ballot affidavits were co-signed by US-based Marshall Islands Election Board Members appointed by Jorlang, but the three petitioners say the law is clear that this is illegal.

Officials say the practice of having Election Board Members co-sign affidavits for Marshallese voters living in the US has been a long-standing practice.