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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Execution Of Guam Election Reform Law Unclear
Questions raised over law’s language, possible recount

By Joy White

HAGTA, Guam (Marianas Variety Guam, Dec. 20, 2012) – With a deadline looming less than a month away, the Guam Election Commission (GEC) is struggling to define precisely what must be done to meet the mandates of the newly enacted election reform law.

According to the law, GEC has 30 days from the passage of the bill to audit the ballot stock from the 2010 election. GEC also has 45 days to audit provisional and absentee ballots and to provide the impact these ballots had on the election.

The legislation was introduced earlier this year but was vetoed by Gov. Eddie Calvo in April. It was brought to the session floor again last Dec. 11 and passed with 10 votes.

However, there are questions on whether the law requires a full recount. In addition, GEC commissioners agreed the language of the law is unclear and there is little guidance on how the commission should go about meeting the mandates.

The definition of the term "audit" in the context of ballots is also not clearly indicated in the law.

At a meeting yesterday evening, GEC member Patrick Civille suggested that the term "audit" refers to "selective testing." He recommended that GEC conduct a reasonably designed procedure of examining a sample of ballots from a small number of precincts to discover any faults.

GEC has agreed to consult with outside professionals and the Legislature to clarify the gray areas. The issue has been put on hold until the next meeting.

Another matter put on hold at yesterday’s meeting was the performance evaluation for GEC Executive Director Maria Pangelinan. A pre-assessment will be performed before the official evaluation is completed.

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