RIDING on a wave of good economic news, the Republican tandem of Gov. Eloy S. Inos and Senate President Ralph D.L.G. Torres coasted to an easy victory in the runoff election on Friday against the Independent team of former Speaker Heinz S. Hofschneider and former Sen. Ray N. Yumul.
IT won in 10 of the CNMI’s 13 election precincts while also besting HY in the absentee and early voting results.
Based on the Commonwealth Election Commission’s unofficial results late Friday night, IT garnered a total of 6,547 votes or 57 percent of the total votes cast while HY got 4,948 or 43 percent.
Compared to the general elections, the turnout for the runoff was lower: 13,798 cast their ballots in the four-way race on Nov. 4 while the total votes cast for the Nov. 21 runoff was 11,495, but this figure does not include all the absentee votes.
At the multi-purpose center in Susupe, the first results were announced by Election Commission Executive Director Robert Guerrero just after 8 p.m.: early voting on Saipan, Precinct 2 and Precinct 3A, giving IT the lead, 2,802 - 1,830.
The votes were counted manually, but there were only two gubernatorial teams on the ballot and the tabulation process was a lot smoother this time around. Soon, Team IT expanded its lead, losing only to HY in Precincts 3A and 3B, where Hofschneider and Yumul reside, and in Precinct 4B.
Guerrero said some 2,385 absentee ballots were mailed of which 444 were counted on Friday night. IT garnered 323; HY, 121. Commission Chairwoman Frances Sablan in an interview said they had not yet received 1,941 absentee ballots, but IT leads by 1,599 votes and the chances of HY overtaking the GOP tandem by getting most of the remaining absentee votes — which will be tabulated on Dec. 5 — are slim. In the four-way race on Nov. 4, IT received 52 percent of the absentee votes.
Guerrero said he’s “relieved that it’s finally over.”
He said the tabulation would have been quicker “if we used modern technology but there were issues with the machine during the general elections, and hopefully this won’t happen again in the future. We walked and stumbled but we managed to correct every mistake so everything is still good.”
Guerrero said the official results will be certified on Dec. 5.
On Friday, the polls opened at 7 a.m. and closed at 7 p.m. The election commission board started sorting the ballots from the early voting at around 7 and started counting them at 8 p.m. The counting was over at around 11:30 p.m.