2010 Guam Election Recount Inadequate: Democratic Party
By Jerick Sablan
HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Feb. 20, 2013) – The Guam Election Commission (GEC) this week completed its audit of the 2010 General Election, but the commission's effort may not be enough for those who pushed for the audit in the first place.
Democratic Party Executive Director Carlo Branch earlier this month said he gives credit to the commission for recounting the ballots. Commission staff during the past five weeks counted the results of five different precincts by hand.
However, just recounting the ballots wouldn't sufficiently answer if any fraud occurred during that election, Branch said.
"If you're counting ballots that weren't supposed to be there in the first place, then the numbers won't change significantly," Branch said.
Branch said the Democratic Party is interested in allegations of fraud, as reported in several precincts.
Branch said allegations that some voters cast ballots twice and that ballot stock was not properly reconciled are among the party's concerns.
Branch said the Barrigada and Tamuning precincts were of most concern since they were said to be the subject of several fraud allegations.
The last Legislature passed an election reform law that also mandated an audit of the 2010 General Election results.
The commission board voted to audit five precincts by a hand count: precincts 15B and 15C in Barrigada. precinct 14 in Mongmong-Toto-Maite; precinct 10 in Yona and precinct 19B in Yigo.
The recount found no significant difference in any of the precincts, commission Executive Director Maria Pangelinan said yesterday.
"The changes we found are usual errors that we calculate for during elections," she said.
The commission currently is compiling the discrepancies and will present the final results of the audit to its board members in March, she said.
After the board gets the results, the commission will post the findings on its website and then submit it to the Legislature, Pangelinan said.
Branch said the results of the recount aren't necessarily accurate if the ballots counted were fraudulent in the first place.
Sen. Rory Respicio, D-Agana Heights, who pushed for the audit of the 2010 General Election, earlier this month said he was concerned that Tamuning precincts weren't part of the audit.
"They really should have audited the precincts believed to have the most problems," Respicio said.
Respicio said the Legislature's goal in mandating the audit was to improve voter confidence in the voting process.
Gov. Eddie Calvo last March vetoed the bill that called for the audit, calling it political mischief by the Legislature's Democratic majority. Senators voted to override his veto last December.
After the 2010 General Election, 42 complaints were filed with the Election Commission, mostly by the Democratic Party, after unofficial election results were released.
Democratic gubernatorial running mates Carl Gutierrez and Sen. Frank Aguon Jr. filed lawsuits in 2010, alleging illegal voting and ballot-box tampering.
Both Respicio and Branch said there still will be doubt about the election because the commission can't reconcile the number of ballots that were used.
Branch said not knowing how many ballots were printed, received or destroyed makes it almost impossible to show that no fraud occurred during the election.
"The inability to reconcile ballot stock leaves a huge area of doubt and legitimacy of the 2010 election," Respicio said. "Notwithstanding this doubt that still exists, I'm hopeful this audit will improve voter confidence."
Branch said he believes the audit should have included three components.
The first is the recount, he said. The second would be to audit all ballots printed, destroyed and used. The last would be to look at the election process itself.
Voters to be purged
Pangelinan also said the commission will be sending letters to voters who will be purged from the voter registry because they did not vote in the 2010 and 2012 General Elections.
"We have compiled a list of 4,725 voters who will be purged," Pangelinan said.
The election reform law requires for the first time that voters be notified before their names are removed.
The law states the commission must send letters to all voters who are being purged 30 days before it happens. It also must notify voters after it happens.
Pangelinan said purged voters must re-register before they can vote.
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