Senator asks for AG input on primary election cancellation; disenfranchisement issues raised

Senator Kelly Marsh (Taitano) (PNC file photo)

Senator Kelly Marsh Taitano has asked the Office of the Attorney General for a legal opinion on the proposed cancellation of this year’s primary election.

With the governor and the legislature now on the verge of acting to cancel the primary election, the senator said important questions have been raised concerning the rights of 2,284 voters who have already cast ballots at the GEC office, many of whom are manåmko’, people with disabilities, and others most at-risk of COVID-19.

“This total constitutes 12-14% of the anticipated primary election voter turnout. Further, this total can increase with absentee ballots coming in via mail. Canceling the 2020 primary election after their ballots are now in the custody of the GEC raises the question of disenfranchisement of citizens who have already exercised their right to vote,” Marsh-Taitano stated in her letter to the AG.

The senator is respectfully requesting the AG’s legal opinion on the following questions:

(1) Has the 2020 Primary Election technically begun, since July 30, 2020, the Guam Election Commission began receiving 2,284 cast ballots, which are currently in its custody?

(2) If the 2020 Primary Election has in fact begun, which entities possess the authority to cancel it and what processes need to be followed?

(3) In the event the 2020 Primary Election is canceled, would any federal law protecting voters’ rights be violated as the ballots included the election of a federal office? Or would any federal law be violated for any other reason?

(4) In the event the 2020 Primary Election is canceled, will the 2,284 ballots in the custody of the Guam Election Commission and other absentee ballots on their way be nullified? If not, what happens to such ballots already cast?

According to Marsh-Taitano time is of the essence since the Legislature is likely to consider, in the coming days, the question of postponing or canceling the 2020 primary election, which is scheduled to take place in less than a week.

“Your legal opinion would provide senators necessary information before making this important decision,” the senator said.