Examining the gov’s race recount request

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Nope! No doubt about it! The Democratic governor’s race election results were tight as a tick last weekend. So, are we going to see a primary recount or not? Not if the election commission executive director’s read is right on the law.

Guam – Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Sen. Frank Aguon, Jr. (D), and his running mate, former Attorney General and former U.S. District Attorney Alicia Limtiaco, want Saturday’s ballots retabulated, after Sunday’s preliminary results showed they missed the mark for a tie by just 260 votes.

Democratic Governor’s Race

Vote Count

LEON GUERRERO/TENORIO:       8,218

AGUON/LIMTIACO:                      7,958

VOTE DIFFERENCE:                         260

PERCENTAGE DIFFERENCE: 260 VOTES / 8,218 VOTES = 3.2%

Leon Guerrero/Tenorio’s 8,218 votes minus Aguon/Limtiaco’s 7,958 votes equals 260 votes. That’s a difference of just 3.2 percent. When it’s that close, what’s the proper course of action? The law on the matter appears simple, if not entirely clear.

Guam Election Law

If the tabulation indicates that a difference in votes is two percent (2%) or less, the Commission shall conduct a recount of the votes.

—3GCA Elections, Ch. 11, § 11131. Recount.

The proper interpretation of law may boil down to a matter of which figures should be used.

Democratic Governor’s Race

Vote Count

LEON GUERRERO/TENORIO:       8,218     (32.14%)

AGUON/LIMTIACO:                        7,958   (31.12%)

GUTIERREZ/BORDALLO:                5,609   (21.94%)

RODRIGUEZ/CRUZ:                         3,761   (14.71%)

WRITE-INS:                                          22    (00.01%)

TOTAL:                                           25,568    (100%)

Another argument considers all votes cast in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, instead of narrowing the ballot count difference between the top vote getters.

Democratic Governor’s Race

Vote Count

LEON GUERRERO/TENORIO:       8,218   (32.14% of all votes cast)

AGUON/LIMTIACO:                        7,958   (31.12% of all votes cast)

“SHARE OF VOTE” DIFFERENCE:              (01.02%)

In so doing, it would appear that the vote gap between Lou & Josh on the one hand and Frank & Alicia on the other is narrower than it actually is—just over one percent, close enough for a recount.

Democratic Governor’s Race

Vote Count

LEON GUERRERO/TENORIO:       8,218

AGUON/LIMTIACO:                        7,958

VOTE DIFFERENCE:                              260 (3.2%)

The Guam Election Commission and lawyers will meet to begin sorting out the law and the numbers this Thursday, but at this point, GEC Executive Director Maria Pangelinan’s interpretation of the law goes with the difference between the top two finishers at 3.2 percent, close to the 2 percent legal threshold demanding a recount, but no cigar.

Pacific News Center has asked both Aguon and his senatorial chief of staff, for the Aguon/Limtiaco campaign’s response to our inquiry about a letter the campaign duo sent Pangelinan requesting a recount, based on the campaign’s interpretation of the election code. However, PNC has received no comment yet. Pangelinan has confirmed receipt of the Aguon-Limtiaco letter and has provided PNC with a copy.  It reads as follows:

August 27, 2018

Maria I.D. Pangelinan

Executive Director

Guam Election Commission

Subject: Official Request for 2018 Guam  Primary Election Vote Recount

Dear Executive Director Pangelinan,

The Committee to Elect Aguon Limtiaco for Guam officially requests a recount of the 2018 Guam Primary Election Democrat ballots and votes cast for Governor and Lieutenant Governor of Guam, in compliance with Title 3 Guam Code Annotated (GCA), Chapter 11. Pursuant to 3 GCA §11131, “if the tabulation indicates that a difference in votes is two percent (2%) or less, the Commission shall conduct a recount of the votes….” The Unofficial Results of the Guam Primary Election held on August 25, 2018, released by the Guam Election Commission substantiate that a recount of the votes is mandated by law.

Thank you for your attention to the above request. We look forward to the Commission’s timely response.

Very Respectfully,

Frank Blas Aguon, Jr., Candidate for Governor of Guam

Alicia A. Garrido Limtiaco, Candidate for Lt. Governor of Guam

The wild cards in this past weekend’s close finish include interpretation of law, the enfoldment of absentee and provisional ballots into the ballot count, and the road to final vote-count certification.