Thursday, November 5, 2009

Voting on Initiatives--one by one-#4

Yes, I know. I've skipped #3 (the Open Government Act initiative). I haven't gotten to it yet. But thought I should post what I can.

Senate Legislative Initiative 16-11 (S.L.I. 16-11) has the same number as H.L.I. but is entirely separate and different. Not to be confused by the 16-11--be sure to check out the pre-fix.

S.L.I. 16-11 amends Article VIII, section 1 of the CNMI Constitution.

It makes the following changes:

1. It changes the day of elections in the CNMI from Saturdays to Tuesdays.
2. It sets all elections in only even-numbered years.
3. It adjusts terms of elected public officials to make sure the respective positions are filled until the next election in an even-numbered year. It does this by adding a year to terms, where necessary.
4. The next regular general election would be in 2012. The next governor's election would be 2014.

As noted in the CEC pamphlet on pros and cons, this means the governor we elect in this election, will have a 5 year term, the legislators will have 3 year terms, senators will have 5 year terms, and mayors will have 5 year terms.

It also means that we will not be having elections every year; will save money on the cost of elections; will not be hearing election "music" every year; and will have our elections more closely to the same time as elections in the U.S.

I do prefer Saturdays for elections. I think they provide greater opportunity for people to vote. But nothing in this Constitutional provision prohibits the Legislature from passing some type of law that mandates that all employers give at least one hour (or more) during the work day to their employees for the purpose of facilitating their ability to cast a ballot in the election.

And the cost savings, along with less election hoopla, seems to me a real bonus.

I'm pretty sure the even years were chosen because of federal elections, and now that we have a federal delegate, this will also enable us to coordinate CNMI elections with that election as well.

(I may regret this, especially if Benigno Fitial or Juan Pan wins the governor's position, but) In general, I would vote yes on this S.L.I. 16-11.


Anonymous said...

I believe that Diego submitted a bill that would have achieved the same result (synced election on even years) without adding an extra year to the terms. He called for shortening them by one year. I think that is a much safer alternative than granting an additional year in office to unknown winners of the upcoming election. If they are doing a good job they can run again and win.

We don't have to pass this one. We can see if they can pass Diego's (or a popular initiative signature drive) and vote on shortening it in the Delegate elections next year. I know the past AG said you can have initiatives on that election but I think that is wrong too and we can and will.

Saipan Writer said...

I agree it's hard to vote for longer terms for people when you don't know who those elected officials are.

But shorter terms have a similar problem--people who won the confidence of the voters are denied the opportunity to do their job for the full term.

Changing over will be a problem, but it's a little problem. We can live with a year longer, I think--no matter who the incumbents. It will be behind us soon enough.

And we do need this now, so we don't have more and more elections. We can't be sure of change later.

This can't be done by law; it must be a constitutional amendment. The Legislature obviously by-passed the proposal Diego made in favor of the longer term. This is what we get to vote on.

If we don't vote on it now, we'll have more elections until the Legislature passes another initiative, and no telling that they would.

I think we should take it while we've got the chance.

Anonymous said...

Didn't they just have an election in the states for President last November 2008 and didn't they just have one yesterday for Governors. How often do they hold elections? I checked Wikipedia and it seems almost every year.

Anonymous said...

Just to clarify, Diego submitted a bill (legislative initiative) that would have put the shortened years on the ballot not altered the law outright.

Saipan Writer said...

Well, I agree with anon 12:57 that some states have elections every year.

And even if they didn't, we don't have to do what the states do just because they do it.

We need to do what is right for us.

From my p.o.v., the cost savings is something we could benefit from. The downside is minimal.

It's a one-time change-over and then we're back on track same as always.

Seems worth it to me.