Colonia-- The polls in Yap ended at 7 p.m. on Nov. 6 and the ballot counting began. The large blue and green wooden boxes were gathered from the polling stations around the island and delivered to the Small Business Center’s conference room that had started the day as a voting location.
Approximately 30 people set to work opening the envelopes and sorting the ballots. The state-owned radio station was turned on in homes all over the island to begin listening to the results at 8:30 p.m. But it was nearly three more hours before the first results were announced. It seems that a record number of voters turned out for the race that split the island in half largely due to contentious issues that focused on development.
A play list of Micronesian music and American country and western singers blared from the radio station as residents on the island and citizens who tuned in on their computers from places as far away as Texas, California and Oregon waited. It would be an all-nighter for the counting team.
A voter casts his vote in Yap. Photo by A. Tareg, Jr.
By morning, gubernatorial candidate Henry Falan and his running mate, Jesse John Salalu, were ahead of incumbent Tony Ganngiyan and his running mate, Francis Itimai, by 76 votes out of a total of 2,440 votes cast. The roster of senatorial candidates filled the legislature’s 11 seats with some old and some new faces. But the tally remains unofficial and incomplete.
Unknown and uncounted are the votes of those who live “off island” in places like Guam, Hawaii, Saipan, Pohnpei and Yap’s Outer Islands. The ETA of those ballots is in the hands of the Yap State Election Commissioner’s office. For now, everyone is holding their collective breath and speculating on which way it will go. Will Satawal’s vote split? Will Ifalik’s 560 residents go for Falan and Salalu? Will Woleai use their votes to thank the incumbent for promising to get the long-closed, deteriorating civil runway repaired and opened for service again? Or will the opposition’s pledge of transparency and accountability in government be a deciding factor, especially in Salalu’s home island of Fais and its neighbor, Ulithi.
Speculation is the only thing Yap’s voters have to go on until the boxes arrive and the official tally is announced. When that will be is still an open question as of this writing.