Rota Election Recount Ordered

January 4, 2010

The Supreme Court ordered a recount of the ballots cast in the Rota elections stating in their opinion that, "the Commonwealth Election Commission failed to conduct itself in accordance with the law." Here is the the press release:

On Thursday, December 31, 2009, the Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision finding that the Commonwealth Election Commission did not properly count all the Rota ballots cast in the November 9 general election and ordered the Commission to recount the Rota ballots under the supervision of the Superior Court. The action stemmed for lawsuits filed November 16, 2009 by Victor Hocog and Ross Manglona against the Election Commission and the winners – certified by the Commission – of the Rota election. Hocog and Manglona were candidates in the November election and asked the Superior Court to conduct a recount under the Election Contest statute because, they claimed, the Commission had not properly counted the Rota ballots.
On December 4, 2009, the Superior Court held a hearing in which both Hocog and Manglona presented evidence. After the hearing, the Superior Court ruled that Hocog and Manglona were correct that the Election Commission had not properly counted the Rota ballots according to the election statute. However, the Superior Court dismissed the lawsuits, holding that under the Election Contest Statute, the person contesting the election must be able to prove that he or she would have won the election before the court will recount the ballots. Hocog and Manglona appealed to the Supreme Court.
On December 30, 2009, the Supreme Court held oral arguments during which all of the parties agreed – except the attorney for the Election Commission – that the Commission had not counted the Rota ballots according to the statute. The Supreme Court issued its decision the following day, holding the Superior Court was correct that the Election Commission improperly counted the Rota ballots, but reversed the Superior Court’s dismissal as premature. The Supreme Court agreed with the lower court that the Election Contest Statute sets a very high standard for people attempting to overturn an election. However, the Supreme Court further held that the Election Commission cannot freely choose not to follow the election procedures set by the legislature, and the Supreme Court used its constitutional power under Article IV, section 3 of the CNMI Constitution to issue the writ of mandamus – an order by the Court that requires a governmental agency to conduct its ministerial duties according to the law.
The Supreme Court’s decision requires the Election Commission to count the Rota ballots under the supervision of the Superior Court, and after the count occurs, the Superior Court has been instructed to then rule on Hocog’s and Manglona’s lawsuits.
The eight-page opinion written by Supreme Court Chief Justice Miguel Demapan, and justices pro tem Timothy Bellas and Edward Manibusan stated, Since 1 CMC § 6524(d)(2) is mandatory, and cannot be waived, the Commission’s failure to preliminarily count, tabulate, and publish the ballots cast for the Rota election in Rota prior to their shipment to Saipan was a violation of a clearly established legal duty and warrants mandamus."

The recount will be conducted Thursday at 1:00 pm on Rota.


Anonymous said...

Counting dead shotgunned fruit bats on Rota would make more sense.

Wendy said...

Anonymous 7:29

I do not understand your comment. It makes sense to recount ballots when there is a legal question or challenge. That's not saying that the results will change, but that the law will be followed. All people who participate in elections expect that the process will be fair and that election laws will be observed.

captain said...

It would seem to me that the incompetence of this election committee (in all areas)is only surpassed by the ignorance along with the blatant lack of knowledge of all procedures.
Another do nothing political appointed slots with the usual high salary and disregards of any and all procedures which is typical of the politically appointed over the competent qualified individual that may be available.
Just a bunch of oxygen thieves collecting a salary and taking up space.

Captain said...

Anon 7:29, seems like somebody was listening to you. Now they are counting the Fanini on Rota as poachers are still in action there.
Maybe this Govt. will be able to do two chore at once for the first time. LOL