Guam election reform bills awaiting governor's action
By Pacific Island Times News Staff
Late Friday evening, the 36th Guam Legislature voted to pass several measures, inclusive of two pieces of legislation that would amend certain provisions associated with Guam’s elections.
Bills 173-36 and 174-36 were introduced by Sens. James Moylan and Joe San Agustin and came at the request of the Guam Election Commission.
If enacted into law, Bill 173-36 would address several changes including eliminating the primary election contest for any race, partisan, or non-partisan, if fewer or equal to the maximum number of candidates can advance to the General Election for that specific race. This section would provide a savings element.
Bill 173-36 also creates a process to fill the seat of Washington delegate in the event it was vacated prior to the end of the term of the officeholder.
Currently, no such structure exists. The measure also modernizes election provisions with electioneering at polling places by providing the Guam Election Commission more discretion and responsibility with enforcing the mandate.
Bill 174-36 addresses timelines for candidates when it comes to filing nomination papers with the Guam Election Commission. If enacted, candidates would have to file their paperwork earlier than the status quo. This provision was suggested by the Guam Election Commission to provide their staff ample time to reach out to registered voters who reside off-island.
Under the proposed statute, potential candidates would have to file their nomination paperwork at least 90 days, and not earlier than 160 days, before a scheduled primary election.
Both bills were introduced in 2021 after concurrence with the Guam Election Commission, and with the objectives of having these provisions enacted for the 2022 election cycle.
However due to uncontrollable circumstances, neither measure made the agenda until the January 2022 session, hence lawmakers voted to amend the effective date to Jan. 1, 2023. Thus, if enacted, these changes will not take place until the next election cycle.
“The election process is indeed a sacred right of the electorate, and it is imperative that election laws are reviewed and modernized periodically, to assure that voters get their voices heard.," Moylan said.
"Simultaneously, we must look for ways to reduce unnecessary expenses where possible. Bill 173-36 does provide for such language by eliminating a primary election for certain races, if an adequate number of candidates are on the ballot, and all would advance to the general election,."