GEC head talks elections

Guam Election Commission Executive Director Maria Pangelinan (PNC file photo)

The head of the Guam Election Commission discussed the  bill to make early voting permanent.

Recently a public hearing was held on Bill 120-36.

Bill 120-36 would allow Guam residents to vote early within a 30-day in-office period without the requirement of providing proof of reasons.

Maria Pangelinan, Guam Election Commission executive director, went on air with Newstalk K57’s Patti Arroyo about her testimony on Bill 120-36.

She said that the time-consuming process needed to ensure the integrity of the votes should be maintained.

“Each absentee ballot, if you’re familiar, we seal them in envelopes or the voters seal them in envelopes with the affidavit on so we have to get all those envelopes to the right precinct to make sure it’s complete,” Pangelinan said.

She added: “We make sure that the affidavit is complete, together with the signature. On the other side of that envelope, we will tag on the application form to make sure there’s one more check and that it’s the correct person and this goes with the application.”

The GEC executive director also explained the cost breakdown for the early voting process. to the legislature.

“We received $600,000 directly from the US Election Assistance Commission. We received CARES funding directly from them so we spent $179,000 of that towards early voting during the pandemic. The rest of it, we spent totally for the run-off election. So, we didn’t factor in the cost, we’ve actually … what we’ve factored in was what we’ve spent, plus the overtime, and for both the 3/10 periodic employees we picked up and the overtime of our regular employees,” Pangelinan said.

Although early voting during the last election was supported by CARES funding, GovGuam will be the one responsible for funding early in-office voting moving forward.

Pangelinan says that GEC estimated that early voting alone will cost $175,000 per election.

Last year, they had a total of 13,000 early voters