by Nick Delgado
Guam - The Guam Election Commission spent all weekend recounting the general election ballots from seven different precincts that were either fed through a corrupted tabulator or the races were too close to call. And the results were found to be no different from Super Tuesday.
It was a long day Friday and even longer Saturday, as GEC officials and volunteers spend a grueling 14 hours recounting the election ballots. GEC executive director Maria Pangelinan told KUAM News, "That was because the hand counting on the Legislature side - that's 15 seats, 30 candidates that takes a long time with the hand counting and it comes out to make it so it was worth the while. Everybody is assured the results are what they are supposed to be."
The GEC started Friday machine tabulating precincts 4 in Agat, 6 in Umatac, 13a in Agana Heights and 18c and 18g in Dededo. Precinct 4 showed obvious error in data with incumbent Adolpho Palacios receiving zero votes and Democrat senatorial candidate LeahBeth Naholowaa receiving one vote. Election Systems and Software technicians traced the problem to a corrupt disk transferring data from the machine to the software system. That same disk carried precincts 6, 18c and 18g. Precinct 13a meanwhile was recounted due to the ballots being double counted.
Shortly after the machine tabulation was completed, GEC conducted a hand count of precinct 4 due to the discrepancies and at random precinct 13a to ensure further accurateness. GEC and the respective party representatives spent all of Saturday hand counting over a thousand ballots in total. Unofficial results showed the hand count was pretty accurate with no significant changes and just a margin of one or two votes difference from the machine count on about a dozen candidates in the Guam Legislature. Palacios's zero votes in Precinct 4 did jump up to 264, but was still a big gap between his number 16 position and the number 15 position held by incumbent Senator Rory Respicio by a little under 400 votes.
GEC conducted a machine tabulation of two more precincts chosen at random-precinct 14a in Mongmong-Toto-Maite and 16 in Mangilao and compared the results with the unofficial count. Board chairman Joe Mesa noted the machine recount verified the commission's suspicions of discrepancies from the original count.
The solution to the problem, Pangelinan says, is new tabulators. "It's going to be very difficult if we forced to use the same equipment for the next election," she expressed.
Approximately 147 non-partisan ballots that went missing were run through the machines Sunday afternoon. "Those were the non-partisan ballots that were the lat precinct to come in and the second to last to check out from Asan-Maina and so the nonpartisan ballots were incorrectly put in the supply box so those were retrieved," said Pangelinan.
In the meantime, the final handcount for two close races was also done Sunday. The mayoral race in Asan-Maina showed Joana Blas taking the spot with 293 votes over Vincent Babauta's 277. The same goes for the vice-mayoral race in Agat, where incumbent Agustin Quintanilla will retain his seat over his challenger Derick Hills. The commission will spend the week addressing about a dozen election complaints filed with their office, and meet this Thursday at 5:29pm to clear up other election administrative issues.
The GEC will certify the election results during its next regular meeting on November 19 at 5:26pm.