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Five precincts up for ballot recount

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by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - The Guam Election Commission will conduct a recount of five precincts Friday morning. During its board meeting Thursday evening, the GEC voted to recount Precinct 4 in Agat, Precinct 6 in Umatac, Precinct 13a in Agana Heights and Precincts 18c and 18g in Dededo.

According to Election Systems and Software Tech-Support Specialist Jason McDonald, precinct 4 specifically showed totals where there is a clear corruption in total data. For example, incumbent Senator Adolpho Palacios received zero votes and LeahBeth Nahalowaa received one vote whereas Agat mayoral candidate Bill Cundiff received 14 votes to incumbent mayor Carol Tayama's 411 votes. Palacios was present during the meeting and expressed his concern over the error. McDonald said the issue was a corruption of the disc that transferred the data from the machine to the software system. He added because precinct 4 along with precincts 6, 18c and 18g appeared on that disc it appears that they all most likely had corrupt data as well. All of the ballots from these four precincts were tabulated on tabulator #4 otherwise known as "Fred".

McDonald also noted it appears that ballots from precinct 13a had run through the software system twice meaning the ballots were counted twice. Precinct 13a was also tabulated on "Fred".

Board chairman Joe Mesa says a machine recount will be conducted on the five precincts on a machine that didn't cause error and after will randomly pull two of the five precincts for a manual tabulation. And in order to ensure all the votes are accurate, two other precincts that are not involved will be pulled and recounted to match up the totals.

"Because there's a question on certain things and I think we owe it to the voters and we owe it to the candidates and the people of Guam," Mesa said. The commission's transparent and we would do whatever that has to be done to ensure that everybody's vote is properly counted."

The GEC board also discussed over a dozen complaints filed by voters and candidates stemming from the General Election. Incumbent Yigo Vice Mayor Ronald Flores filed a complaint over the misspelling of his name on the ballot that read "Roland" rather than "Ronald". Flores was defeated by Republican candidate Anthony Sanchez. Executive Director Maria Pangelinan says while the GEC did proof read the ballot many times, it was ultimately a human error. Flores was present during the meeting telling commissioners the mishap may have confused voters and may have caused him to lose the election. He ultimately said he would not seek a re-election or contest the results but wanted assurance the mishap would not happen again. Chairman Mesa apologized on behalf of the GEC saying it's an unfortunate mistake.

Additionally, more than a handful of the complaints filed came from the village of Yona where several voters noted concerns over "suspicious activity" in what they claim were people being allowed to vote that were not residents of Yona. Incumbent Mayor Jose "Pedo" Terlaje was present during the meeting and expressed his concerns as well. Other complaints stemmed from questions over whether Yona mayoral candidate Ken Joe Ada was in fact a resident of the village. The unofficial results showed Ada defeating Terlaje for Yona mayor. The complaints were referred to GEC legal counsel Jeff Cook who will research and respond by next week Monday.

Due to the recount, the results of the election were not certified. However, the GEC will hold its next regular meeting on Monday, November 18 in anticipation of the certification of the 2012 general election results.

The recount meanwhile starts Friday at 11:01am at the GEC offices in Hagatna.

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