Saipan — Amid massive destruction on Saipan and Tinian brought about by Super Typhoon Yutu, CNMI Gov. Ralph DLG. Torres on Monday signed an executive order postponing the 2018 general elections by one week.
Originally scheduled for Nov. 6, the CNMI elections have been moved to Nov. 13. Early voting, originally scheduled for Oct. 30, will now start on Nov. 6.
The governor postponed the elections as Saipan and Tinian struggle to recover from the impact of Yutu, which tore through the Marianas on Oct. 24.
Under Commonwealth law, the governor is authorized to postpone the election for such time “as is deemed necessary, but in no event shall postponement exceed 30 days from the date when such election should have been held.”
“After consultation with the Commonwealth Election Commission, the Commonwealth Utilities Corp., and other relevant agencies, I have determined that it will be nearly impossible to hold the election as scheduled for a variety of significant factors,” said Torres, who also cancelled his campaign activities.
Torres enumerated the following factors that he said warranted putting off the election: the inability of the CEC to conduct the election as required; the damage to the public and private infrastructure; the people’s need to look after their families and property; the government’s need to concentrate on providing relief to the public.
“We are at a very sensitive time here in the CNMI, and I want all of our residents on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota to focus on taking care of themselves after experiencing two devastating natural disasters,” Torres said. “This recovery operation is beyond politics, and as your governor, we will continue to work closely with FEMA, DoD, and our other federal and military partners during this important time.”
While exercising a citizen’s right to vote is an important part of democracy, the governor said, “taking care of yourself and your family is even more important.”
Tinian Mayor Joey Patrick San Nicolas said the island has been completely devastated by the typhoon.
“Our people have lost their homes, and many of their belongings. There is no running water, our stores have run out of drinking water, and our gas stations are currently inoperable,” San Nicolas said in a statement.
“Please do not lose hope,” Sani Nicolas told his constituents. “There are many people around the world who desperately want to help. In the meantime, I and the Municipal Operations Center are working day and night to bring our island back to normal. We are here for you, and we will get through this together.”
With the help of Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the American Red Cross, the mayor's office was able to distribute humanitarian daily rations and bottled water to our residents, the mayor said.
San Nicolas said the Commonwealth Utilities Corp., the Department of Public Safety and the Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services assisted in the distribution of potable water to Tinian residents straight from the local aquifer.
“However, many residents have run out of fuel and cannot avail of these services, or do so with great difficulty,” San Nicolas said. “Despite these challenges, Tinian’s Municipal Operations Center is making headway in bringing essential resources back to our residents.”
The mayor’s office is currently working with local private sector partners to install a generator at the Maui Well Pump to kick-start city water distribution.
“We are also working with the Department of Defense in partnership with FEMA to establish a reverse osmosis system to make more water available for Tinian residents,” San Nicolas said.
The Tinian International airport is open for humanitarian and military operations, while Star Marianas Air is now open for reservations.