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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

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Commission Decides To Audit Ballots From 5 Guam Precincts
Parameters for 2010 election review not specified in law

By Joy White

HAGTA, Guam (Marianas Variety Guam, Jan. 23, 2013) – Compelled by a push from the Democratic Party representatives, the Guam Election Commission (GEC) yesterday agreed to reinstate the original agreement to audit the 2010 election ballots from all five precincts instead of just two.

At last night’s commission meeting, Democratic Party representative Christopher Carillo argued that the audit of five precincts was critical in preserving voters’ confidence in the commission’s ability to conduct an election.

Carillo was absent on Friday when GEC made the decision to cut short the recount.

"Certainly, it’s a slow process; it’s tedious. But we were directed by the Legislature to do it. And we came up with an agreement that we would recount five precincts," Carillo said.

Bipartisan pact

Independent member Patrick Civille, who made the motion to change the recount last Friday, changed his position and voted in support of auditing five precincts.

He said he originally made the motion because the full audit placed a burden on GEC staff and seemed counterproductive, but he acknowledged the importance of a full audit to the Democratic Party and the bipartisan agreement.

Republican members Martha Ruth and Johnny Taitano voted against reinstating the original audit agreement. Democratic members Don Weakley and Dot Chargualaf voted favorably.

The Election Reform Law mandates an audit of the 2010 election ballots, provisional and absentee ballots and ballot stock. However, the law did not specify the parameters for the audit and the commission chose to audit Precinct 14 in Mongmong-Toto-Maite, Precinct 10 in Yoa, Precinct 19b in Yigo, and Precincts 15b and 15c in Barrigada in the 2010 election.

"The law did not dictate to us how many precincts to count. That was decided by this body," GEC chairman Joe Mesa said.

GEC staff completed the audit of Precinct 10 in Yoa last week.

Identifying problems

"We’re not here to change the outcome of the election; what we’re here to do is to look at the problems we had," Carillo said.

"This is our chance to look at what might have happened. And I feel that you’re taking that away from not the Democratic Party, but the people of Guam to trust us to run a fair election," he added.

Carillo said the audit gave GEC a chance to determine what might have happened during the ballot counting.

Following the 2010 election, candidates Carl Gutierrez and Frank Aguon filed a federal lawsuit against GEC, alleging fraud, tampering with absentee ballots, turning away registered voters, and non-citizens being allowed to vote. Gutierrez and Aguon filed a dismissal of the case with prejudice in June of last year.

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