GEC may not have enough funds for runoff; early voting can start Monday

Guam Election Commission (PNC file photo)

The Guam Election Commission may not have enough money to conduct the congressional runoff election scheduled for Nov. 17.

During GEC’s board meeting tonight, GEC executive director Maria Pangelinan said it takes about $365,000 to run an election.

“I still don’t know exactly how much money we have left. But most likely, I don’t think we have the money,” Pangelinan informed the election commissioners.

She told the commissioners that she will work with the Department of Administration accountants tomorrow to get a clearer picture of GEC’s financial situation.

Commissioner Patrick Civille asked if there’s any federal money available for GEC to use. But Pangelinan said the federal money is only allotted for COVID-related expenses like health and safety measures and personal protective equipment.

If GEC doesn’t have enough money, Pangelinan said they may have to ask money from the governor’s office or the legislature.

Commissioner Jerry Crisostomo said he can almost guarantee that senators would ask about what happened to the money saved from the cancelation of the primary.

But Pangelinan said they saved only about $117,000 from the primary, mostly from the payments of precinct officials.

If GEC does get the money to conduct the runoff, Pangelinan said early voting could start this Monday.

The design of the runoff ballot was already approved by the commissioners during the meeting.

Pangelinan is hoping to get the design software from GEC’s vendor so they can start printing the ballots on island.

GEC legal counsel Vince Camacho said they don’t need special legislation for the runoff because this could just be considered as an extension of the general election.

He added that only voters registered in the general election can vote in the runoff.

“We’re not changing the voting registry at this time,” Camacho said.

It was suggested that to save money, GEC utilize a hand count instead of a machine count. Pangelinan said GEC can save about $14,000 by using a hand count.

Civille said if a hand count is used, counting should be started the following day already to prevent or minimize errors because everybody would be tired after the polls close.

But with the contractor assuring that they can have the ballot out in time, it was decided to use a machine count instead.

Homebound voters who want to participate in the early voting on Monday need to call the Guam Election Commission first.

Toward the end of the meeting, GEC board chair Michael Perez emphasized and assured that GEC will get the money it needs and the runoff will definitely occur on Nov. 17.