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Work ongoing to ensure smooth 2014 election

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by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - In less than a year, voters will hit the polls for what is set to be another exciting election season. And efforts are already underway to ensure all runs smoothly.

It's no secret that the Guam Election Commission has faced its challenges as well as criticism over elections past. And according to executive director Maria Pangelinan with less than a year away until the primary election, positive efforts are already occurring as a callout for new election equipment has already sparked interest. "We've received a statement of interest and that will be discussed at the commission meeting next week," she said.

Pangelinan could not reveal the interested vendor but notes the notice was sent to five companies that have federally certified equipment - Dominion Voting Systems, Microvote General Corporation, Unisyn Voting Solutions, Hart Intercivic and Election Systems & Software. The last being GEC's longtime vendor.

Pangelinan said, "In the long run, buying outright might be cheaper but based on the situation, it may be better for GEC to lease equipment just in case there is an offering for a different type of equipment that we may not know about, so we may just want to try it."

It was over the summer when the GEC received an assessment from ES&S recommending Guam discontinue the use of its decade-old machines. Interested parties meanwhile still have until October 15 to submit statements of interest to sell or lease equipment to the GEC.

And speaking of deadlines and elections, the Democratic Party of Guam is gearing up for its election next month. And according to Speaker Judi Won Pat who is tasked with the nomination committee, despite the slow start things are coming along nicely. "We've been actually meeting on a weekly basis, and I've involved every senator so they were given two villages each, I'm the only one with three and basically go out and recruit members who would like to run," she said.

It was in March this year when Darryl Taggerty was appointed acting chair of the party following the resignation of former party chair Carl Gutierrez late last year. Party elections were supposed to be held in august but have since been postponed to next month.

Nominations meanwhile are being accepted for a new chair and vice chair, secretary and treasurer along with central executive committee members throughout the villages. Won Pat says leading into the gubernatorial election next year, it's important to solidify leadership in the villages as they help with the grassroots efforts. For now she says, it's time to rejuvenate the party and that involves working with the future generation. "I think for any organization, any party and even for members of the Legislature is you always have to look to the future generations, they're the ones that are going to carry it on when the senior members start to leave," she said.

For now she says it's about building the momentum leading up to the elections. "We're going to have a fundraiser on the 11th (of October) to be able to help us and on the 12th the former governor (Gutierrez) has invited all of the Democrats and interested individuals who would like to come to his private residence so we can drum up more support," she said.

The Democrats at this point have not announced any official candidates for the gubernatorial race.

The deadline to submit nomination packets are on October 25 with the party elections set for November 9. For more information contact Speaker Won Pat's office at 472-3586. 

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