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Palau sends out 2,253 absentee ballots

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KOROR (Island Times/Pacnews) — The Palau Election Commission has mailed out 2,253 absentee ballots to Palauan citizens abroad for the Nov. 3 general elections.

 The election commission said it will accept requests for absentee ballots up to seven days before the elections.

 Under the law, absentee ballots must be postmarked no later than the day of the elections and must be received by the election commission no later than the seventh day following the elections, or Nov. 10.

This timeline has caused some concern among government officials and the Palau Post Office who worry that there may not be enough time for Palau citizens abroad to receive and return ballots due to the reductions of cargo flights to one every week. 

President Tommy E. Remengesau said the national government will “feel the wrath of the Palauan people” if a large number of Palauans abroad are excluded from participating in the elections due to insufficient time.

But Election Commissioner Maria Decherong-Simer said they are mandated by law to observe the deadline. Extending the deadline would require amending the law, and there has been no such amendment, she added.

In August, President Remengesau submitted a bill proposing to extend the submission deadline from seven to 10 days following the elections, but the bill remains pending in the Palau National Congress.

 For its part, the U.S. Postal Service has said that it is prioritizing the shipment of ballots.

The election commission said the best way to ensure that absentee ballots are received and counted is for voters abroad to be mindful of the deadlines for requesting and returning the ballots.

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