VIDEO: Branch Files Suit Against GEC Over Alleged Open Government Violations

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Guam – Yet another lawsuit has been filed that has the potential of disrupting the results of the November gubernatorial election.

Carlo Branch, a former staffer for the Gutierrez – Aguon campaign, claims numerous violations of the open government law by the Guam Election commission.

“For me personally, it has nothing to do with the election. It does have everything to do with the sanctity of law.” said Branch. “Now some people are going to say that I’m lying and  some people are going to say that I’m ignorant. But I go to bed at night quite well, knowing that I’m doing everything that I can to make sure that no other election in the future is questioned.”

Branch’s lawyer, Gary Gumataotao filed the “Petition for Declaratory Relief”  in Superior Court.

In it Attorney Gary Gumataotao argues that the Guam Election Commission [GEC] did not comply with the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act [ADA] during a number of its meetings last year. The complaint details instances where the GEC failed to mail, or failed to personally deliver, or failed to post or provide public notice.

The suit alleges that the GEC violated not only the ADA, but Guam’s Open Government Law as well.

Branch said that the Open Government Law requires 2 specific standards be meet. First is the requirement of notice. “In order for a meeting of a commission to be valid and in order for that commission to take action, any  board or commission must provide a 5 day notice through media or a paper of general circulation. And in addition, a 2 day notice in the media or a paper of general circulation.”

The second requirement, says Branch, is that “every notice must have a specific ADA coordinator mentioned so that persons with a hearing disability or visual impairment can get the assistive technology or aid that they need.”

Branch says the GEC was given fair warning, he previously spoke to the Election Board about this problem and he wrote a letter to the GEC as well as discussing the alleged violations with GEC Attorney Caesar Cabot. But he says he never received any response.

“Every government meeting, both with boards and commissions, as well as the Department of Education School Board, must follow the Open Government Law,” said Branch.

And Branch sighted a recent case in which the Judiciary cancelled a meeting because proper notice was not given.

“Now if the Judicial Branch of Government,  and the Executive Branch appointed commissions follow the law with respect to Open Government proceedings, I don’t see why the GEC should not.”

Branch’s lawsuit asks the court to declare that all actions taken by the Guam Election Commission at all of the meetings cited in the lawsuit since last September 15th be “declared null and void.” 

If the court were to grant that request, it would also nullify the votes taken to certify the November 3erd election.

But Branch says that is not his point.

“I’m not going to anticipate what a court is going to do or isn’t going to do. I am going to say that from this point on, the Election Commission is fully on notice that it must meet all the requirements of law.”