Enough funds for runoff election; GEC ready for start of early voting today; lower turnout expected

Guam Election Commission (PNC file photo)

The Guam Election Commission is all set to hold the early voting for the congressional runoff election which starts Monday, Nov. 9.

During Sunday’s election commission meeting, GEC executive director Maria Pangelinan informed the commissioners that the GEC vendor has finished tweaking the programming for the ballot design.

GEC is now in receipt of the ballot design and is printing the ballots for the congressional runoff between incumbent Guam Delegate Michael San Nicolas and his challenger Dr. Robert Underwood.

As for the funding, Pangelinan said GEC will have enough money to cover the costs of the runoff.

“I worked with the Department of Administration yesterday and it looks like we have enough money,” Pangelinan said.

During the last board meeting, concerns were raised that GEC might have to ask the governor or the legislature for funding because it might not have enough funds left over from the general election to cover the runoff.

But GEC board chairman Michael Perez assured during Sunday’s meeting that GEC has enough money and doesn’t have to go to the legislature. He said GEC will just do some budget modifications from within and make internal transfers of money where it is needed.

Although they don’t have an exact figure, the GEC commissioners expect voter turnout to not be as large as during the general election, which already had a record low turnout.

Only 51.96% of the island’s 55,880 registered voters turned out for the general election. This is lower than the 60% expected by the GEC and the lowest turnout for a general election in the island’s history.

“For the runoff, I don’t think it will be as big as the general election. We’ll be lucky if we hit 40,000 … probably 38,000 is more likely,” said Commissioner Jerry Crisostomo.

According to Pangelinan, GEC is no longer accepting voter registration for the runoff.

“But those registered to vote but did not vote in the general can vote in the runup,” she said.

Although there is only one race in the runoff, Pangelinan said GEC will require the same number of precinct officials because regular GEC employees will be busy attending to the mandated COVID health and safety measures.

Because of the expected lower turnout, it was suggested that GEC might save money by lowering the number of precinct officials per precinct from five to four.

But GEC legal counsel Vince Camacho pointed out that the law requires 5 precinct officials per precinct and GEC can’t deviate from that rule.

Pangelinan said precinct officials will be retrained starting Wednesday and “they are being notified as we speak.”

In-office absentee voting will be held at the GEC Polling Room (3rd Floor) and curbside at the GCIC Building in Hagåtña.

According to Pangelinan, voters, regardless of voting district, may vote during the in-office absentee voting period. Voters will be serviced on a first-come, first-served basis and no appointments are necessary.

The GEC board will reconvene on Sunday, Nov. 15, at 3 pm to conduct a test run of the systems and to tackle any other issue that may come up.

 In Office Absentee Voting Hours of Operation

Monday – Friday

Nov. 9, 2020 – Nov. 13, 2020

  9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. Manamko’ Hour

10:00 a.m. –   6:00 p.m.

Saturday, November 14, 2020   9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. Manamko’ Hour

10:00 a.m. –   4:00 p.m.

Monday, November 16, 2020   9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. Manamko’ Hour

10:00 a.m. –   12:00 p.m.

Voters are reminded to wear a mask, bring a photo ID, and are encouraged to bring a black ink pen.

Additional parking is available at the old Staywell Building next to GCIC.