Monday’s smoothly conducted national election moved into the grind of the ongoing hand count in Majuro and Ebeye early Tuesday morning, where ongoing tabulation meant complete results for all “regular” and “absentee” votes in the Majuro electorate would likely not be available until Friday.
In addition to early results showing incumbents being shocked by challengers, the big story of election 2015 so far is Sherwood Tibon in Majuro and David Paul in Kwajalein elbowing their way into historically difficult electorates for newcomers to gain a foothold. Massive voter endorsement propelled Tibon to the top of Majuro Nitijela voting — a rarified position held in past elections by such heavyweights as late President Jurelang Zedkaia and late veteran Senator Alik Alik.
With about 60 percent of the Kwajalein regular vote counted by Wednesday afternoon Paul has maintained the number two position in the three-seat race, a position bolstered by Paul’s strong performance in the Majuro Kwajalein absentee voting.
Tibon has campaigned as the “youth voice” for Majuro, while Paul has positioned himself as the action candidate for Kwajalein Atoll.
Meanwhile, numerous incumbents are on the hot seat in the early voting, including Majuro Mayor Mudge Samuel who was over 200 votes behind challenger Ladie Jack based on all regular Majuro votes.
All three Majuro incumbent opposition senators — Tony Muller, David Kramer and Brenson Wase — are clearly on their way to reelection, while retired Army veteran Kalani Kaneko looks to round out the Majuro delegation depending on results of postal and absentee votes.
All results at this stage are preliminary, unofficial and represent only a part of the total number of votes to be tabulated.
The domestic vote tabulation likely will be largely complete by this Friday November 20. And then everyone’s attention — and anxiety — will turn to the countdown to opening and tabulating postal absentee ballots.
The big question mark that looms large over the election: what impact will these postal ballots have on the outcome?
Chief Election Officer Robson Almen said his office mailed 4,671 ballots to Marshallese voters living overseas.
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