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Palau Court Denies Motion To Stop Counting of Absentee Ballots

Associate Justice Kathleen Salii on Monday denied the motion for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction aimed at stopping the Palau Election Commission from opening or counting the absentee ballots cast by overseas voters during the Sept. 27 primary elections.

Office of the Palau Election Commission

The scheduled counting of absentee of ballots will continue Oct. 4 without a hinge after the court shot down the petition prohibiting the election commission from counting the absentee ballots.

Plaintiffs Joel Toribiong Richard Silmai, Ephraim Ngiraitei, Moses Yobech, Isreal Demei and Richard Sandei on Sept. 27 filed a motion for a TRO to stop the tabulation stating that the commission did not follow the law by registering people to vote in Palau while physically outside of the Republic of Palau, in violation of 23 PNC §§ 1401 and 1402, which, according to the plaintiffs, require that “voter registration process take place exclusively within the Republic of Palau.”

To get a preliminary injunction, the plaintiffs must show that they will suffer irreparable harms unless the injunction is issued.

When determining whether to grant preliminary injunctions, the ruling stated that it considered the extent of the irreparable harm, each party's likelihood of prevailing at trial, and any other public or private interests implicated by the injunction.

The order however stated that should the plaintiffs succeed in stopping the counting of the absentee ballots, “it is already too late to avoid the significant cost to the public that will be incurred should plaintiffs action succeed.”

The granting of the injunction in favor of the plantiffs would also invalidate the registrations of many off-island voters- whose votes have already been counted.

Click here to read the Order denying the motion for preliminary injunction

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