REMOTE MARIANAS VOTERS FRUSTRATE OFFICIALS

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By Jude O. Marfil

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, Aug. 24) - Five more voters on remote islands in the Northern Marianas yesterday asked the Commonwealth Election Commission to allow them to cast their ballots in the Northern Islands.

At a CEC board meeting, Allan Castro, Abigail Ruben, Tobias Aldan, Esteban Metao and Crispin Castro appeared before the commissioners chaired by Miguel M. Sablan, and expressed their intention to vote in the Northern Islands on election day, November 5.

CEC Executive Director Gregorio C. Sablan said the rising number of those seeking eligibility to vote in the Northern Islands is "bothering" him.

"It is the smallest precinct and I want the board to be involved in determining the eligibility of the voters there," Sablan said.

Of the five, the CEC denied Metao’s plea to vote on Agrigan after he failed to establish his residency on the remote island.

Sablan noted that Metao only stayed on Agrigan for two months starting in June 2001.

"Metao is now living in a homestead in Kagman," said Sablan. "During the 2001 elections, he cast his vote on Saipan using a ballot for the Northern Islands."

Another Northern Islands voter, Ruben, testified that she does not know Metao.

So far, there are 83 voters in Alamagan, Pagan and Agrigan.

Election officials are spending 20 percent of their operations budget on the voters there.

In 2003, there were 80 registered voters in the Northern Islands, and of this figure, only 59 voted.

August 25, 2005

Saipan Tribune: www.saipantribune.com

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