4 Nov 2016

Slim lead for incumbent in Palau election - Absentee votes to decide result

3:21 pm on 4 November 2016

In the Palau presidential race, the incumbent, Tommy Remengesau, is leading his brother-in-law Surangel Whipps Junior, by less than a hundred votes.

hand voting with Palau flag in background

Photo: 123 RF

The Electoral Commission said absentee votes, which will be counted after the 8th of November, will decide the outcome of the national election.

But the Election Service Administrator Elenita Bennie Brel said the final result will not be announced until later this month.

Elenita Bennie Brel said this is partly due to electoral provisions but is also because the absentee ballots will be sorted and counted manually in-front of representatives of the candidates.

"We want to make this election very fair and transparent for everyone who has concern and wants to come in. So after November 8 the counting of the absentee ballots and then it takes another 15 days for the board [of the electoral commission] to certify them," she said.

Figures supplied by Native ex-pat radio show that as of Wednesday night, Mr Remengesau had collected 4108 votes just 78 more than Surangel Whipps Junior.

A reduction of the number of Senators from 13 to 11 and the subsequent reversal of that decision delayed the printing and sending of absentee ballots until 17th October.

Valid absentee ballots have to be postmarked by November 1st but the Palau Electoral Commission reportedly put out an informal announcement that anyone who received their ballot late could still submit it as long as it was accompanied by a complaint letter.