THE Majority leader of the 31st Guam Legislature, Sen. Rory Respicio, has written to the Guam Election Commission expressing the hope that the voting process will not be as problematic as it was in 2010.
With less than three weeks to go before the 2012 general election, we’d bet most people on Guam share the hope that this election will be less troubled than the last one.
However, the author of the letter was in a better position than most to make certain the election this year is better run. Sen. Respicio and his colleagues had it within their power to make significant, fundamental changes in how elections are handled on Guam. They chose instead to leave it in the hands of GEC, the same organization that had so much trouble two years ago.
That was an opportunity missed. Now Sen. Respicio is reminding everyone of the findings of a bipartisan committee formed by GEC to investigate the 2010 problems. They found:
- GEC did not know how many ballots they printed for the 2010 general election;
- GEC hadn’t reconciled the number of ballots issued and cast at precincts;
- Thousands of potential voters were removed from GEC rolls without legal notice;
- More than 5,000 early voting ballots were unsecured in the GEC office for several weeks;
- At least eight properly cast ballots were found in supply boxes and were not counted;
- A confirmed number of voters cast ballots illegally in both Guam and the CNMI in 2010;
- A number of ballots, cast by servicemen overseas, were received after Election Day, and their votes for Delegate were counted, but votes for the other races were not counted;
- A number of voters applied for homebound voting but were not allowed to vote; and
- A number of voters properly applied for absentee ballots but never received them.
That’s quite a list. The senator is now asking for assurance from the election commission that none of that will happen again. He and his colleagues had plenty of opportunity to tighten up the regulations and even rewrite the election code to avoid those kinds of screw-ups, but they chose instead to rely on the same organization that perpetrated the problems – albeit now with a new executive director and some different commission members.
We don’t think that’s enough. Of course we will hope for the best, right along with the Majority leader, and keep our fingers crossed. But a complete overhaul of the election code and restructuring – possibly even elimination – of the Guam Election Commission is what we think is needed.
The government of Guam and its election commission narrowly avoided having to defend its hapless 2010 performance in a court of law. Perhaps that should have happened, since the Legislature declined the challenge to statutorily reform our election laws.