Postal voting on the way out?

The Nitijela at a January 2016 session. Photo: Hilary Hosia.
The Nitijela at a January 2016 session. Photo: Hilary Hosia.

Two pieces of legislation introduced to Nitijela would, if passed, amend the RMI election law to eliminate voting by postal ballots for Marshallese who live off-shore and determine leave of absence dates for RMI government employees who stand for election.

Bill No. 6 focuses on restructuring the postal ballot section of the law so that postal ballots would be limited to use for RMI residents who will be off-island during the date of an election or a local resident who is confined to hospital or home by sickness. The current provision allowing citizens who “reside outside of the Republic” to vote and the provision allowing postal ballots to arrive up to 14 days after election day would be eliminated by this bill. Bill No. 6 states that the objectives of the legislation is to “allow Marshallese citizens who are tax-payers and residing on the islands to determine the person or persons to represent them,” eliminate postal affidavits to avoid fraud, expedite tabulation of ballots, and reduce expenses of running the vote. It was introduced by Ministers John Silk and Wilbur Heine, and Senators Maynard Alfred and David Kramer.

Bill No. 9 aims to amend candidate registration requirements as well as the period government employees must take leave prior to an election to three months. Deleted are requirements that a candidate “possess traditional land rights and have either a mother or a father of Marshallese descent.”

Read more Nitijela news in the March 11, 2016 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.