2 Mar 2012

Marshalls senator calls for eliminating non-resident postal votes

8:35 am on 2 March 2012

A Marshall Islands senator wants to do away with postal voting rights for citizens living in other countries.

In the November 2011 election, more than 2,500 Marshallese living outside the country submitted postal absentee ballots - about 10 percent of the total ballots cast in the election.

Ebon Atoll Senator John Silk, the former Foreign Minister of the Marshall Islands, has introduced legislation to amend the Elections and Referenda Act.

His move follows two national elections in which controversies about postal ballots ended up in court challenges.

Four losing candidates currently have pending legal challenges in the High Court that question the legality of postal ballots submitted in the November national election.

If Silk's bill is adopted, it would change the current system to allow postal ballots to be used only by Marshall Islanders in such ill health that they cannot physically go to a polling station or registered voters living in the country who will be temporarily outside of the Marshall Islands on election day.