GEC Faces Legal Action From DOJ Next Week Over Absentee Ballots

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Guam- The clock continues to tick as the Guam Election Commission (GEC) figures out how to comply with the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act and send out absentee ballots for the Guam Delegate race as soon as possible.

The agency is in violation of federal law for missing the 45 day deadline to mail out ballots before the General Election, which was September 18.

The Board of Directors reconvened its meeting Friday afternoon, where interim Legal Counsel Rawlen Mantanona told members legal action will be filed next week with the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Mantanona also says the Attorney General’s Office is now involved and they will be asking the court for Declaratory Relief, or a judge’s determination of rights for parties involved in a contract or statute.

However, the imminent ligation will not affect any of the local races because the board voted to separate the Guam Delegate election on another ballot. Mantanona explains all races, including the Guam Delegate one, will move forward.

“As far as everyone is concerned, it will go forward” said Mantanona. “The issue is whether the votes received after the date of the election will be counted towards the total tabulation for that one specific office. So, that is the issue that we’re going to go to forceful guidance because we have our own law that speaks to that issue.”

Meanwhile, GEC is prepared to perform two portions of the option DOJ has given them. This includes emailing a PDF file of the Guam Delegate ballot to absentee voters, as well as contacting them by phone if they want to receive their ballot through the mail or electronically. GEC isn’t sure about the third component of the option, which is to still apply the 45 day period to send and receive absentee ballots.

In addition, officials are waiting for the overdue ballot stock shipment, which is now expected to arrive this weekend. The shipment has been stuck in Hawaii because a military shipment received more priority.

GEC is also preparing a list of precinct officials that may be facing misdemeanor charges for being absent during the Primary Election.

Members went into Executive Session to continue discussions on GEC’s office space issue.