Litigation expected for GEC's non-compliance - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Litigation expected for GEC's non-compliance

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by Janjeera Hail

Guam - The Department of Justice is expected to file legal action against the Guam Election Commission next week for the agency's non-compliance with the 2009 Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act.  The Commission failed to send out absentee ballots for Guam's delegate race to about 100 military and overseas voters in time to provide a 45-day window for the ballots roundtrip.

That deadline was September 18.  But GEC Executive Director John Blas admits his office received a letter as early as April, reminding his office about the new law.  "In receiving that I forwarded that to legal counsel for of course a much better reading. It appeared that a lot of the letter itself appeared to me would require legal eyes to look at," he said.

Blas says the letter was overlooked because it was received in the midst of a special election. So far, the DoJ has only come up with one three-pronged alternative to litigation:

  1. Provide overseas voters the option to receive their ballot electronically (i.e. a PDF received via e-mail)
  2. Call or e-mail voters to determine whether they'd like to receive their ballots via e-mail or post
  3. Still provide that 45-day window for the ballot to make its roundtrip

Blas says his office is nearly complete with the first two caveats, but compliance with the last would require the GEC to violate local law. GEC Legal Counsel Rawlen Mantanona explained during this afternoon's meeting that he expects the feds to file something soon.  "We're going to state to the court basically the laws the Government of Guam has passed in relation to tabulation and results. The U.S. Government will of course argue their position in view of the CAVA Act, and then we will submit orders and the court will then make a decision hopefully in a very short time," he explained.

In the meantime, the GEC is still awaiting ballot stock. It was supposed to be received on September 13, but it's been held up in Hawaii while a military shipment was given priority.  The latest from the supplier is that the shipment will be delivered on Sunday.

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