GEC gears up for Decision 2014 with new election reform law - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

GEC gears up for Decision 2014 with new election reform law

by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - It was nearly a year ago when an election reform law was successfully overridden by lawmakers and come this election several changes are in-store for island voters, potential candidates and the Guam Election Commission as well.

Executive director Maria Pangelinan says Decision 2014 will be much different this time around. "The election reform law was passed in December, which makes the 2014 elections opportune time to implement the election reform law," she explained.

Pangelinan admits the island has seen its fair share of challenges in recent elections and says a new election reform law, despite the controversial path it took to reach fruition, will help. "I'm sure there is a little room for some improvement, but overall this has the process of getting us updated and upgraded was successful," she stated.

So what does it mean for voters? Pangelinan says for one, absentee voters will now have 10 days more for the GEC to receive their ballots. "What that means is we cannot certify the election until we give the absentee voter, especially the ones from off-island enough time for them to send in their votes in," she said.

Pangelinan adds during the 2010 gubernatorial election, it was through a District Court order that stipulated the GEC had to wait for those votes to come in to be compliant with federal UOCAVA law. As for the candidates, Pangelinan says the threshold to file an organizational report has changed from $100,000 either raised, received, or spent to just $250. So far only incumbents have filed reports.

As for the Commission itself, she says most significant is the requirement to count every write-in vote. "That's going to be a task for us and that again affects the tabulation," she said.

New tabulation machines meanwhile are not a requirement of the new law but an effort done through recommendation and assessment by its vendors.

Pangelinan meanwhile says since the law was enacted, the GEC has been reviewing the significant changes in preparation for Decision 2014 and is confident the GEC is ready to fulfill the mandates, especially since this is her first gubernatorial election. "With the support of everybody including the Governor and the Guam Legislature, and mind you they have been supportive of us, we will be able to get a good election done in 2014," she said.

Just a friendly reminder, the primary election is set for August 30, candidates can start picking up nomination packets starting next month and voter registration continues at the GEC offices in Hagatna. 

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