Marshalls Supreme Court rules voting law unconstitutional

10:48 am on 11 October 2019

The Marshall Islands Supreme Court has ruled a three-year-old law banning the use of postal absentee ballots for national elections is unconstitutional.

The Court House in Majuro in the Marshall Islands

The Court House in Majuro in the Marshall Islands Photo: Giff Johnson

But because the two complaints that triggered this week's ruling were filed close to the November 18 national election, the Supreme Court's ruling will apply only for later elections.

The complaints were filed by Marshallese citizens living in the United States.

The judges said a qualified Marshallese voter residing outside the Marshalls has the constitutional right to vote in the national or local elections.

In response, the President's Office in a statement said the court decision would not affect the November 19 election, so that poll will go ahead as planned, based on the current law and with existing restrictions on postal ballots.

But Parliament's Speaker, Kenneth Kedi, said the declaration of the postal ban law was unconstitutional voids that law, so reviving the previous election law, allowing voters living outside the Marshalls to vote using postal absentee ballots.

The government now needed to take action to provide postal ballots to registered voters living overseas, he said.