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By Moneth Deposa SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, Nov. 3, 2010) – Incumbent Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan won the four-way delegate race by a landslide, garnering a landslide mandate of 2,158 votes ahead of his closest rival, Joseph Camacho of the Covenant Party.

As of 7:28am this morning, Sablan, who ran as an independent candidate, has already raked in a total of 4,902 votes, over and above Camacho’s 2,744 votes.

The national Republican Party’s resurgence didn’t do much for former governor Juan Babauta, who came in third with 2,049 votes, while the Democratic Party’s bet, former lieutenant governor Jesse Borja, just got 1,707.

Sablan topped all precincts, except for the early votes, where Camacho took a commanding 965 votes over Sablan’s 430.

As of 3:45am this morning, when the Saipan Tribune was put to bed, the race was still too close to call, with only four election precincts and early votes tabulated . At that time, only 4,278 total votes have been counted of the estimated 6,500 voters who cast their votes yesterday.

Sablan was already leading the race as of 3:45am, with a total of 1,653 votes, albeit reflecting just a 200-vote margin over his closest rival, Camacho, who got 1,453 votes as of the hour.

The two other candidates-Babauta and Borja-both showed a wide gap in their totals, with Babauta getting 706 votes and Borja garnering 466 votes from the four precincts and early votes.

Sablan's strong showing was a result of his lead in all four election districts counted: Chalan Kanoa, Rota, Tinian, and San Antonio.

Camacho got a chance to surpass Sablan's strong showing with the early votes, when he recorded 965 votes-a 535-vote margin-over Sablan's 430 votes.

Election Commission executive director Robert A. Guerrero started announcing the partial unofficial result at 1:15am, with Sablan initially making a remarkable start by leading all his three opponents in the first three election precincts-Chalan Kanoa, Rota, and Tinian.

On Tinian, Sablan had a 42-vote lead over Camacho, getting a total of 202 votes against Camacho's 160. Babauta had a strong showing, coming in with the second highest number of votes, 174, next to Sablan. Borja remained the cellar dweller with only 45 votes.

Prior to the counting of the San Antonio area, Camacho was ahead of Sablan by only 10 votes. The fourth precinct gave Sablan continued advantage over his opponents.

Early projection was that ballot processing would take only a few hours and many became uneasy when the processing took more than five hours to complete-from 7pm through 12:30am Wednesday-for all the votes cast in 13 election precincts, early voters, and absentee ballots.

Processing include the opening of envelopes, checking and verification. The procedure started at exactly 7pm as soon as polling sites closed on all three islands.

Ballot boxes from both Tinian and Rota were received by the commission at 9:10pm.

There are a total of 16,576 registered voters in the Commonwealth, including 1,035 registered absentee voters as of Oct. 30.

Saipan Tribune learned that as of 6pm yesterday, the commission recorded roughly 6,500 voters on Election Day; 700-plus absentee votes; and 1,700 early votes.

Voters wait for their turn to vote at Garapan Elementary School yesterday morning. Only a few polling places on Saipan had long lines or any line at all on the day of election for a CNMI delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives. Compared to the first delegate election with nine candidates, this time around only has four bets.

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