On November 1, early voting for the Northern Mariana Islands elections began. This included the gubernatorial election, a three-way race between incumbent Ralph Torres (R), Arnold Palacios (I), and Tina Sablan (D).
Over 600 voters have already cast their ballots in early voting, and nearly 2,000 have requested absentee ballots. The voter base is relatively small, with only a little over 19,000 voters registered. Consequently, no polling has been conducted as to the outcome of the gubernatorial election. However, many sources are skeptical that any one candidate will win a majority of the votes. As a result, a runoff election in which the top two candidates advance is anticipated.
In the days leading up to the election, Torres and Palacios have remained quiet about the race. Torres remains embroiled in a suit he filed against the legislative branch’s judiciary committee, which he accused of impeding the executive branch. On October 31, Torres appealed the case to the supreme court, imploring them to check against what he deemed legislative overreach. Palacios, on the other hand, has remained largely out of the news since his debate in early October, in which he promised that, if elected, he would bring experience and fiscal prudency to the governor’s office.
Sablan, on the other hand, published an appeal to voters on November 1, making her case for governor. She promised transparency, saying that her administration would never fly business class on taxpayer money or direct government funds to personal friends, as she accused Torres of having done. She also reiterated promises made in her debate with Palacios, such as efficient infrastructure spending and overall fiscal responsibility.
Early voting will run from November 1 to November 8, which is election day. However, due to the likely runoff, voters may not know the results of the election until January, which is when the tiebreak election will occur.