Tuesday, April 24, 2007

CNMI Election Basics

First, let me get this out of the way: I'm not running for office.

So.

I'm looking forward to my first CNMI election. This Novemeber the voters of the island of Saipan are going to elect 16 Representatives to the House of Representatives and 1 Senator to the Senate.

I've really enjoyed watching the early shenanigans. The incumbent Senator is a Democrat, but the Democratic leadership is saying that he's not loyal. Some of the incumbent Republicans aren't getting party support either. The Covenants seem to be getting along.

But wait, I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me explain how the election works.

There are three Senate seats in Saipan. This year, only one of them is up for grabs. There are three major parties in the CNMI right now (there have been more or fewer in the past) and each is allowed to nominate one candidate. There won't be a primary; the candidate is chosen by the party leadership. We can expect a Democrat, a Republican, and a Covenant to run. Those Senate hopefuls who don't get the party nomination have the option of running as an Independent.

Each Saipan voter casts a single vote for the candidate of their choosing. The candidate with the most votes wins. There is no runoff election.

Saipan has 16 seats in the CNMI House of Representatives. Every single one is up for grabs this election cycle. Saipan is split into four precints. Precint I has six seats, Precint II has two seats, Precint III has six seats, and Precint IV has two seats. The major parties are allowed to nominate one candidate per open seat. There won't be a primary, the candidates are chosen by the party leadership. Those House of Representative hopefuls who don't get the party nomination have the option of running as an Independent.

Each voter is allowed to cast one vote for each of the open seats in their precinct. The voters in Precincts I and III cast six votes and the voters in Precincts II and IV cast two votes. (I have a problem with that, which I'll discuss in a later post)

The top vote getters in each precinct win. There are no runoffs.

Since there are 16 open seats, it is conceivable that there will be 16 Republicans, 16 Democrats (if there are 16 Democrats on Saipan), and 16 Covenants. There will also be a spattering of Independent candidates (Saipan currently has two Independants serving in the House).

Each candidate, once they are confirmed as a candidate by the Board of Elections, is assigned a number. The candidates put their numbers on all of their campaign literature: "Vote for #69 on your ballot!"

In 2007, I will endorse the following candidates: 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, and 42.

I think that's a good start.

I'll write about who's already declared and who I think is running in my next post.

Edit:

Breaking News! Yet another reason not to work with DC lobbyists.

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