IT'S an election year, in case you haven’t noticed. If you pay any attention at all to the political news out of the mainland, it hasn’t escaped your notice. The Republicans are making all the noise as they struggle to select the best candidate to face President Barack Obama and try to deny him a second term.
But, here on Guam, we’ve got some pretty interesting things cooking as well. Chief among them is the race for Washington Delegate to Congress, with incumbent Madeleine Bordallo facing a tough Republican opponent, plus possibly some Democratic primary opposition as well. There are also reported to be some interesting personalities weighing a run for the 32nd Guam Legislature, and rumors of two or three incumbents in trouble already.
We’ll go into all of that during the next few months, but our point here today is nothing has been done to change the makeup or rules of procedure of the Guam Election Commission. We think an opportunity has been squandered.
Following the 2010 election, which was a squeaker barely won by the Calvo-Tenorio team, there were allegations of wrongdoing and criticisms leveled toward GEC, including one or more court challenges. At the time, we called editorially for the Legislature to rewrite the law and procedures covering the holding of elections here. But that wasn’t done. In fact, the lawmakers have pretty much ignored GEC.
Now, under new Executive Director Maria Pangelinan, the commission has gotten its website up and running again, after we are told it was down for most of the last two years. On it, they now have a slick countdown clock ticking away the months, weeks, days, hours and minutes until the Nov. 6 general election; the number 46,915 prominently displayed, representing the registered voters so far who will be eligible to vote; and oh yes, a notation that 5,162 eligible native inhabitants have registered for the decolonization plebiscite, to be conducted someday but probably not on Nov. 6 of this year. There is that lawsuit, after all.
We commend the folks hard at work preparing for the next election. But we’re sorry the Legislature found so many more important things to do that they couldn’t do anything about the Guam Election Commission, leaving it pretty much open after Nov. 6 to the same sort of sloppy procedures and inaccuracies that made the last election so difficult.
There are better ways to run elections. The lawmakers even have some ideas in their files from past legislatures. But they have chosen, instead, to do nothing and hope for the best. That places a heavy burden on Ms. Pangelinan and her staff. We commend them on the new website.