Kosraean voters in Pohnpei to recast their ballots for the Kosrae at-large seat

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press


April 11, 2019

FSM—FSM’s Office of the National Election Director has ordered a revote of the Pohnpei Special Polling Place for the FSM Congress Kosrae State four-year at-large seat.  The revote is only for Kosrean voters living in Pohnpei who were eligible to vote in the March elections and will be held on April 18, 2019 at the FSM National Election Office in Palikir from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

According to the Office of the National Election Director everyone who voted at the Pohnpei Special Polling Place during the March 5 election MUST go to the National Election Office in Palikir on April 18, 2019 and revote.  Since there is a revote, NO votes from the March 5, 2019 will be counted.

“The revote will only be for those Kosrae voters who timely applied to vote absentee at the Pohnpei Special Polling Place prior to March 5, 2019 election and those with valid Voter IDs obtained prior to March 5, 2019,” the notice from the Election Directors says.  “Kosrae voters who voted in the election of March 5, 2019 outside Pohnpei will not be permitted to cast ballots in the revote.”

The announcement of the special election said that a shortage of ballots prevented 20 eligible, timely arriving Kosraen voters from casting their votes.  “This occurred because a larger than anticipated number of voters in possession of validly issued Voter ID card presented themselves at the Pohnpei special polling (place) to vote,” the notice of revote said.

On April 1, 2019, Vice President Yosiwo George, who won the Kosrae at-large seat over Aren B. Palik by 10 votes, filed a 41 page petition at the FSM Supreme Court to appeal the decision of the Office of the National Election Director.  His appeal asked for preliminary injunctive relief to bar the revote.

On April 9, 2019 a three member panel of justices consisting of Chief Justice Dennis K. Yamase, and Associate Justices Beauleen Carl-Worswick and Larry Wentworth denied the request for a preliminary injunction.  The revote will take place as decided by the Office of the National Election Director.

“One who seeks an injunction pending an appeal must show irreparable injury,” the ruling denying the injunction said. “A ‘winning’ candidate cannot show that a revote constitutes irreparable harm because, after the revote is held, that candidate may still be declared and certified as the winning candidate—the revote might not alter the ultimate outcome…George thus cannot show that he will suffer irreparable harm.  He can only show that he might end up losing an election that had seemed he had already won.”

The Court decided that one of the three pillars that would be required to be built before the Court should decide to issue any preliminary injunction also had not been met, that of harm to the public interest if an injunction is not issued.  The Court decided that it was in the public’s interest that fair and accurate elections should take place, and the balance-of-injuries favor neither George nor Palik in that regard.

“Because George cannot show irreparable harm, we need not, at this point, consider how likely he is to succeed on the merits (of the appeal he filed with the Court)”, the Court ruled.

At a status conference on appeal of the Court’s ruling this morning, the Court affirmed that the revote will take place and that any appeals on the matter will take place after the revote.