Tabulating machines, if so ordered by the federal court, could be programmed to skip House Legislative Initiative 18-1, according to court documents submitted in support of a motion for sequestration of ballots pending appeal of a federal lawsuit challenging Article XII. In his declaration, Commonwealth Election Commission executive director Robert A. Guerrero said, “I have confirmed with ES&S [or Election Systems & Software] that the tabulating machines could be coded in such a manner as to ‘skip’ a certain section of the ballots. The proper code needs to be entered into the tabulating machines before the [election] Commission begins tabulating the ballots. If the court so ordered, the tabulating machines could be programmed to skip Legislative 18-1” on the ballots for the Nov. 4, 2014 elections. On Wednesday, District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona said an Oct. 29, 2014 motion hearing will be held, since a decision on the motion for sequestration was needed by Nov. 3, 2014 “in order for any relief the court may grant to be effective.”
Earlier Wednesday, an emergency motion was submitted by Assistant Attorney General Charles Brasington to expedite their motion for sequestration of ballots pending appeal.
Brasington represents the Commonwealth Election Commission; CEC chairperson Frances M. Sablan; Gov. Eloy S. Inos; and Guerrero.
In a briefing schedule ordered by the federal court, plaintiff John H. Davis Jr., who is represented by attorney Jeanne Rayphand, must file his opposition on or before Oct. 22 as the defendants have waived their right to reply.
Guerrero informed the federal court that during early voting which is the period beginning on the 46th day before the election for the Northern Islands and the seventh day preceding the election for the remainder of CNMI, ballot boxes are secured with locks and the keys are held by the Public Auditor.