GEC votes to destroy primary election ballots

Photo shows in-house office absentee voting at the Guam Election Commission. (PNC file photo)

The Guam Election Commission board met last night and voted to destroy all the ballots that were supposed to be used during the canceled Aug. 29 primary election, including those filled in during the in-house absentee voting conducted by GEC.

Vince Camacho, GEC’s legal counsel, said the law allows the destruction of these ballots because they are technically unused ballots because they haven’t’ been used and they haven’t been cast. In addition, they will not be counted for anything.

“The GEC staff are facing issues with regard to space. I would be okay with advising the board, as soon as possible, that if Maria would like to destroy those ballots, there really should be no reason to keep those at this point in time. There would be no challenges, at this point in time, as everyone just moves forward to the general election,” Camacho said.

Up for destruction are some 5,000 ballots filled in by some 2,500 voters who were asked to fill in two sheets during the in-house absentee voting and the 110,000 blank ballots that would have been used in the now-canceled Aug. 29 primary election.

All in all, GEC executive director Maria Pangelinan said some $55,000 were spent on the ballots, including shipping costs.

According to Pangelinan, GEC will have the vendor come over to the GEC office at the GCIC building and GEC will supervise the destruction of the ballots.

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Funding for this can come from the CARES Act, Pangelinan added.

Camacho said he is in favor of destroying the ballots because he wants to protect the sanctity of the voters who voted early and ensure that their votes are not compromised in any way shape or form.

“It is a canceled election and therefore their ballots are really unusable and there’s really no need for the GEC to keep those around any longer. The longer they’re kept around the likelihood of misappropriation or something can happen,” Camacho said.

According to Pangelinan, the ballots are stored in locked cabinets inside the GEC office. There are also cameras monitoring the cabinets to ensure security.