When voters went to the polls for the 2012 primary election in Palau they were greeted by a barrage of signs banning cell phones and cameras. For the first time, clinic cell phones were collected before voters were allowed to enter the voting booths. This new rule was prompted by complaints to the Palau Election Commission of alleged vote-buying for walk-in voters that produced a photo of their vote. Multiple sources have contacted OTV to advise that local radio and television host Alfonso Diaz was telling walk-in voters about money being offered if they took a picture of their ballot (corrected). Vote buying is a criminal offense in Palau subject to a fine and up to 1 year in prison for each individual offense. The Palau Election Commission responded quickly after these complaints with the “No Cell Phones or Cameras” rule.
Additional stories of vote buying have also been reported to OTV. Campaign representatives have approached senior voters with envelopes containing $500. Upon acceptance of the money the senior family members are then supposed to encourage children and grandchildren to vote accordingly. Details on how much money has been distributed and to how many families is unclear.
New campaign compounds are also appearing around Palau with an endless flow of food and drinks being made available to potential voters. Once source told OTV that the young voters in his village were told by a candidate to come up with an activity like a rock island tour and it would be paid for.
Other unconfirmed reports include voters from the North of Babeldoab receiving free gas in Koror while some Senatorial candidates have been driving through villages giving away fish.
OTV is continuing to update this story as details emerge.