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GEC discusses absentee balloting options

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by Janjeera Hail

Guam - Wednesday night's Guam Election Commission meeting was dominated by discussion of the MOVE Act, federal legislation enacted in 2009 that mandates overseas and military voters have a 45-day window to receive and send back their absentee ballots for federal elections.  GEC legal counsel held a teleconference with reps from the Department of Justice on Wednesday morning to discuss how the GEC can come into compliance and avoid possible litigation. 

While it's not official yet, the offer on the table is requires that GEC fulfill each of the following three requirements:

  1. Give overseas voters the option to receive the absentee ballot, affidavit, and instructions electronically.
  2. E-mail or call each overseas voter to find out whether they'd prefer to get their ballot electronically or by mail.
  3. Provide 45 calendar days from the time the GEC sends out the ballots for the ballots to be received.

Concerns were raised during the meeting that while this may remedy federal law, it violates Guam law which requires all votes be received by the close of election day, thus exposing the commission to possible litigation from taxpayers and disgruntled candidates.  Shortly before 6pm, the GEC approved a motion to print ballots for the congressional delegate separately from the local races, a move they hope will at least protect the local races from scrutiny in case the counting of the delegate's race must be postponed.

It did not appear that the GEC was ready to comply with DOJ's options, in which case litigation is almost certain. If the case is brought before a court, negotiations could result in a consent decree - at least that will help shield the GEC from further legal action by third parties.

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