Questions raised over Bill eliminating Guam primary election

The exterior of Guam Election Commission in Tamuning. Photo by PNC's John Duenas

There’s a possibility that Guam may not have a primary election next year, after a lawmaker introduced a piece of legislation that would eliminate it.

But questions have surfaced about Bill 95-37, a legislative measure that would remove primary elections on Guam to create a more inclusive political system and save taxpayers money, which was recently introduced by Democrat Sen. Roy Quinata.

It seeks to eliminate the undue burden that primary elections place on both candidates and taxpayers, as well as limit access to those with enough money or influence to win.

In a press release, Quinata said that removing primary elections would save taxpayers money and reduce campaign costs since candidates wouldn’t have to run an additional race in order to compete in the general election. He aims to create a more accessible system where all voices are heard and everyone has an equal chance at participating in the political process.

Quinata believes that getting rid of primary elections is one step closer towards creating a electoral system on Guam.

Maria Pangelinan, the executive director of the Guam Election Commission, said that the agency will not be issuing a stance on the bill until she goes before the commissioners.

Instead, Pangelinan questioned the act, during a phone interview with the Pacific News Center.

“The chapter on the primary election talks about how candidates get on the ballot,” said Pangelinan. “So, if that’s removed something has to be put somewhere to make sure that the Guam Election Commission has direction on how candidates get on the ballot. It looks like they are removing that.”

Maria Pangelinan. PNC file photo

If the bill is passed into law, she also said run off elections could occur.

“Operationally, if there is no primary election there is bound to be run off elections for congressional delegate and for gubernatorial,” Pangelinan shared with PNC.

She noted Quinata did not reach out to her prior to introducing the measure.

It will go into effect immediately upon enactment, meaning the island may not have a primary election in 2024.