Errors cause confusion among voters

March 17, 2005

The Kaselehlie Press

FSM voters have voiced concerns with problems which arose during the March 8 election. Among problems faced by those intending to vote were the absence of their names from the official registered voters roster and typographical errors on some ballots distributed for the election.

Many voters said their name was omitted from the registration list and were therefore not allowed to cast their ballot on election day. Director of the National Election Office Bernell Edward said the confusion was caused by misunderstandings regarding the registration process.

Although many voters believed they would remain on the roster because they had been registered in previous elections, Edward said it is currently necessary to register for each election 30 day prior to election day. Others were denied the opportunity to vote because they had registered at the state or national level but had failed to contact both offices. Edward said the offices are currently working on a system that would eliminate the confusion caused during this election.

Another point of contention for voters was the presence of typographical errors on the constitutional amendment ballot. Article and section numbers for the proposed amendments differed in the English and Pohnpeian translations on some ballots in the state. Tony David, of Pohnpei, said he and others he has spoken to were unwilling to vote on the amendments because of this problem.

Edward said election offices were aware of the problem and ceased printing ballots when they learned of the errors. Although the ballots were corrected, the ballots featuring the 'typo' were still distributed and used. Edward said the errors occurred because translations were compiled in each state before being rushed to publication, not allowing enough time for precautionary measures.

In addition, the election board was informed of the errors and instructed to conduct public education at the polling places, according to Edward. David said he is unaware of any voting station where this occurred.

Edward said election offices are working towards solutions to prevent similar problems from occurring in future elections.