Guam – The legislature has overridden bill 413, the election reform bill. The measure which was vetoed by the governor because of a provision that requires an audit of the 2010 election, is now law. However, the governor’s Chief Policy Adviser attorney Arthur Clark says it could be open to a challenge in court.
Senator Rory Respicio says today’s override of the election reform bill is a victory for the people of Guam and an expression of the legislature’s support of free and fair elections. “I’m very patient but I’m very diligent as well but it’s through patience and diligence and just having issues be merit based that things kind of just work themselves out,” said Senator Respicio.
This is the second time that lawmakers have attempted an override the governor’s veto of a bill that was originally passed by the Democrats. During the first override attempt Senator Ben Pangelinan was off-island and they were one vote short but they gained the vote of Republican Aline Yamashita. this time around Senator Pangelinan was back and with the vote of Senator Yamashita they were able to override the measure. Yamashita was concerned about the additional cost related to the mandated audit of the 2010 election and the integrity of the ballots. However, she says that on the session floor her concerns were addressed. “In hearing all of that I was like well I go back to what I said and I’m good for my word in that every vote shall count and this overall measure was really crafted by the Guam Election Commission and the commissioners and so with that being said I think we do need to move forward and address everything and ensure that in all elections there’s very little question to results,” said Senator Yamashita.
The Guam Election Commission now has 45 days to conduct an audit of the 2010 election. The audit does not really require a recount of every ballot but just an audit of the provisional ballots which includes absentee ballots. Guam Election Commission Executive director Maria Pangelinan said, “All this time they’ve been in a locked room here at GEC with limited access I hold the key and whoever needs to get in it has to come with me or I have to give them the key.” Pangelinan says she’s not sure what they are required to do when the audit is completed and she’s not sure where the money will come from to complete the audit. “We need assistance with that because this will require additional personnel or additional person hours and we only have 45 days to do it so I need to sit down and figure out how much we need and what kind of resources we need to conduct this,” said Pangelinan.
The administration is surprised that the governor’s veto was overridden. “It really is kind of remarkable to think that the legislature can go in and try to alter the outcome of an election by going in and changing the rules that were in place at the time of the election and I’m unaware of this ever being done in any other jurisdiction throughout a Democratic country like the United States the passage of this bill represents a setback for the democratic process on Guam you know we have to have some concerns now about whether other democratic jurisdictions will really view Guam as a banana republic in this sense,” said Clark. The governor’s chief policy adviser also believes there could be room for a challenge. “I believe there are serious legal and constitutional organic act deficiencies with the law I believe it can be challenged I don’t know if the parties that are involved have decided yet whether that will or won’t happen but I do believe there are serious legal deficiencies with this bill,” said Clark.
Clark says that this law “Doesn’t change the amazing feats Governor Calvo achieved in the last two years, from the tax refunds to the ‘A’ rating on our bonds to a focus on our poor and public education. The governor is continuing his focus on good financial management that leads to tax refunds and good wages to workers. He’ll continue his affordable housing initiative, and efforts toward quality learning in public classrooms and a solid strategic vision for the Guam of the future.”