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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

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Guam General Elections Proceed Without Major Issues
Curbside voting for residents with disabilities slows process

By Cameron Miculka

HAGTA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Nov. 8, 2012) – A misstep in the protocol for curbside voting caused extended wait times at the Asan-Maina precinct during Tuesday's General Election, but that appears to be the only major hiccup related to the election, said Guam Election Commission (GEC) Executive Director Maria Pangelinan.

"It was very busy," she said. "But it's a good busy." Voter turnout was about 69 percent of the 50,000 residents who registered to vote.

Democrats retained the majority in the Guam Legislature, with nine senators compared to six Republicans, the bingo gambling initiative was defeated and Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo secured another term in Congress after beating Republican challenger Sen. Frank Blas Jr.

The commission is scheduled to meet today to certify the results.

Carlo Branch, executive director of the Democratic Party of Guam, said he was happy with the outcome.

"We did what we set out to do," he said, "which was to maintain the majority and send a Democrat to Congress."

Even though polling from Tuesday night showed a strong Democratic majority, there were some surprises, including legislative majority leader Sen. Rory Respicio, D-Agana Heights, finishing 15th in the 15-seat race.

Branch attributed Respicio's low showing in the election to his prominence as the "face of the opposition" during a Republican administration.

"The majority leader, much like the speaker, of the opposing party, will usually take a number of ticks down when you do have opposition," he said.

Branch said he was surprised Democratic incumbent Sen. Adolpho Palacios wasn't re-elected.

"Palacios traditionally has high Republican crossover," Branch said. "That looks like that did not happen for him."

Mike Benito, chairman of the island's Republican Party, applauded the efforts of the successful new Republican legislative candidates, saying they "definitely deserved the win" and would work successfully with the Legislature's incumbent Republicans.

"That group of six is going to be very dynamic," he said. "I hope it's focused on creating jobs and building the economy."

Curbside voting

Due to a heavy demand for curbside voting in Asan/Maina, precinct officials were sporadically stopping the voting process to bring the registration book out to curbside voters.

Curbside voting, Pangelinan said, is a process that allows voters with disabilities to vote from their cars at the precinct location.

Because there's a single book for registered voters to sign, precinct officials stopped the flow of other voting to accommodate curbside voting.

But that shouldn't have occurred, Pangelinan said, because each precinct is provided with "single signature" forms that are specifically intended to prevent the type of disruption that happened Tuesday.

"Curbside voting shouldn't slow things down," Pangelinan said. "That's not what's supposed to happen."

She said other precincts experienced issues with alleged unregistered voters attempting to vote, but she said the issue would be sorted out through the process for provisional balloting.

Pangelinan said ballot tabulation ran smoothly on Tuesday evening -- a sentiment shared by board Chairman Joe Mesa.

It was "much smoother than the primary," he said.

Mesa said he wasn't aware of any major issues related to the election, but said there were probably some "minor issues" the board would need to work on. For example, one of the ballot tabulating machines, nicknamed "Larry," went down for a short time on election night, according to Mesa.

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