VIDEO: Election Reform Bills Debated

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Guam – 2 different election reform bills were argued during a legislative hearing Thursday night.

READ the Legislature’s VETOED election reform Bill # 413 HERE

The Governor’s Chief Policy Advisor Arthur Clark and Legislative Majority Leader Senator Rory Respicio went head-to-head over the Legislature’s proposal , which has already been vetoed, and the Governor’s substitute version of election reform.

READ the Governor’s election reform Bill # 449 HERE

Both sides also spent time disputing the press releases each side issued on their election reform measures. Those releases can be read in FULL below.

READ Senator Respicio’s release on the Governor’s election reform bill in FULL below:

Respicio: Calvo election reform bill is not ‘a mirror image’

(Hagåtña, Guam) –Senator Rory Respicio pointed out a number of problems with Bill No. 449-31 (LS), the Governor’s election reform bill, at this afternoon’s public hearing. The bill was sent to the Legislature on April 23, several weeks after the Legislature’s original election reform Bill, No. 413-31 (COR), was vetoed.

Respicio began by debunking the Governor’s statement, widely reported and repeated by the media, that a provision for an audit “was left in the bill.” The Senator stated that there was no audit language in the bill’s section 2103 titled “Audit Report.” “Just because the word ‘audit’ is included, it doesn’t mean that the language to provide for an audit was left in,” Respicio said. Another section, 7117, provides for an audit of ballot paper used in the election but has nothing to do with counting actual votes; and a third section provides for a recount, but it does not provide for an audit of voters’ ballots. Prospective audits can be done, but no provision exists for a current audit. “Audits are crucial if people are to have any confidence in the electoral process,” Respicio said.

Respicio also said that he was disappointed, but not surprised that the differences between Bills 413 and 449 were NOT all listed in a Governor’s Office news release. He said: “In addition to the six major changes to Bill 413 that were in the Governor’s release, my review of Bill 449 revealed eight more substantive changes that the Governor did not mention.”

The undisclosed changes included three paragraphs and nine Legislative findings that were deleted from Section 1 of the bill; five rewritten sections; one section providing incorrect instructions; and a paragraph incorrectly inserted into the wrong section. Respicio was also critical of the Governor’s statement that the desire to count all valid votes was “mischief.”

“He’s wrong,” Respicio said. “Counting all valid votes is not mischief; counting all valid votes is how you ensure that you have free and fair elections.”

UNSWORN DECLARATION: I hereby declare that the foregoing is true and correct to the best of my knowledge and belief, under penalty of perjury of the laws of Guam, this declaration being sworn and made in lieu of an affidavit pursuant to Title 6 Guam Code Annotated §4308, at the place and date identified herein.

READ the Governor’s release on his election reform bill below:

Audit left in; 2010 voting deadline extension nixed


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 23, 2012

Then-acting Governor Tenorio submitted Governor Calvo’s election reform bill to the legislature Friday. It is largely a mirror-image of the original bill passed by the legislature, vetoed Bill No. 413. The actual election reform provisions are left virtually intact; however, the mischievous provision that aimed to count ballots that were submitted late in the 2010 election was taken out.

The Governor has no problem with an audit of the 2010 election, so he left the provision in his bill.

“Election reform before an election happens is a good thing. That’s why I’m in favor of almost every election reform provision the legislature presented to me in Bill No. 413,” Governor Calvo said. “But changing the rules of an election that already happened so you can legislatively affect the outcome of the election flies in the face of democracy and the rules that the electorate plays by. The legislature has no business tinkering with an election that is done, certified, and in the hands of the courts.”

These are the changes:

1.      § 7118 – Removed the whole section.  Removes legislative mischief that would have retroactively extended the deadline for absentee ballots 18 months after the election happened.  Also, the 2010 ballots are under the current custody and control of the Superior Court of Guam.  You cannot legislatively order that those documents be handed over, as such attempt would constitute a violation of the separation of powers doctrine.

2.      § 8104 – Modified the mandate of prosecution before investigation.  One can’t order a criminal prosecution prior to a determination by the AG that there has been a criminal violation.  Also, the decision on whether to prosecute is a discretionary function of the AG and any attempt to deny the AG such discretion constitutes a violation of the separation of powers doctrine.

3.      § 8201 – Changed “election paper” to “nomination paper.”  There is no specific reference to “election paper” anywhere else in the law.  So this was changed to “nomination papers.”

4.      § 10106 – Moved the 48-hour requirement to send out ballots to the beginning of the section, where it makes more sense.

5.      § 10114 – Reverted this section to the original version.  Eliminated the requirement to allow absentee ballots to come in 10 days after the election – it is not required under UOCAVA.  You can’t leave an election unsettled for ten days after election day. Generally, waiting for 10 days for up to 200+ absentee ballots may not affect the outcome of a gubernatorial election, but it can have an effect on the legislative election.  Senators-elect 13, 14 and 15, for example, would have to wait 10 days after the election to know if they were in fact elected.  Also, 10 days is more than enough time for an absentee voter to send in his/her ballot after the election results are announced.  Can you imagine being allowed to see the results of the election before sending in your vote?  (Compare with §13108 – postmarked before the closing of the polls on the election day).

6.      § 12114 – removed the open-ended authority allowing the election commission to decertify election results.  Election certification is found in § 11118; it has no time restriction for certification.  The time for the election commission to determine whether there are any irregularities in the vote count is before certification, otherwise a court may not be able to accept a legal challenge for the lack of ripeness.  After certification, the venue for challenging any irregularities and to decertify election results rests with the courts.

UNSWORN DECLARATION: I hereby declare that the foregoing is true and correctto the best of my knowledge and belief, under penalty of perjury of the laws ofGuam, this declaration being sworn and made in lieu of an affidavit pursuant toTitle 6 Guam Code Annotated §4308, at the place and date identified herein.