BY BERNADETTE H. CARREON
KOROR, Palau — The Palau Election Commission for the first time in 30 years will be utilizing digital technology to speed up tabulation of election results on Nov. 3.
Election Administrator Maria Decherong Simer announced on Oct. 15 that the election commission has partnered with Election Systems & Software in the U.S. mainland to quickly tabulate votes. The commission will be able to scan 75 ballots per minute.
The commission previously counted votes manually.
Simer told reporters that the machine can scan 5,400 ballots per hour.
“In previous elections, tabulation lasts past midnight to early morning. It saves a lot of time; we can conclude tabulation by midnight, “she said.
Simer said the security and accuracy of elections through the counting machine is assured, as the machine will be able to count and load ballots without connecting to the Internet, thus eliminating the process of it being hacked.
She said the DS450 improves the security of elections by ensuring the results cannot be manipulated.
There are more than 16,000 Palauan registered voters who will have the option to choose a new president, a vice president, 13 senators and 16 members of the House of Delegates.
The commission expects more voters to cast their votes than in the Sept. 22 primary.
For the Palau presidential seat, the race is between Surangel Whipps Jr., CEO of Surangel & Sons Co. and Vice President Raynold B. Oilouch. Whipps led significantly compared to Oilouch in the primary.
The COVID-related economic crisis and reopening of Palau’s borders are viewed as the defining issues for the next president. President Tommy E. Remengesau Jr. ends his term this year.
Whipps is Remengesau’s brother-in-law; and lost to Remengesau in 2016.
Sitting senators Frank Kyota and Uduch Sengebau Sr. are both running for vice president, with 27 candidates targeting the Palau Senate and 27 for the House of Delegates. mbj