GEC will approve all candidates for the primary election - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

GEC will approve all candidates for the primary election

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 by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - Following its meeting Tuesday night, the Guam Election Commission has decided to approve all the candidates who filed to run in this year's primary election including one who's legal name came under question.  

This year's primary election ballot will have the names of every person who filed to run whether it's their legal name or not. This comes as GEC legal counsel Jeff Moots' provided an explanation to commissioners of two different ways commissioners might define a legal name. One is a more modern approach. "So it's the name your given at birth or the name you changed through a legal process," he said.

The other is the common law practice in the United States that has developed over history. "There is precedence for allowing an individual to use whatever name they wish in their interaction with the community," he said.

This legal opinion comes after Romeo Carlos's senatorial candidacy came into question as his affidavit of registration stated his legal name of "Carl Gross" whereas his nominating petition did not. Guam code requires all nominating papers be filed in the candidate's legal name. Moots noted the legislature does not define what a legal name is and either legal explanation would be defensible, saying, "So you as a commission has to determine what the law requires."

If commissioners choose to apply that candidates only use their legal name as defined in the modern approach in the nominating petition, it would have to apply to all. Executive director Maria Pangelinan had told KUAM that more than one candidate had used a name other than their legal name on the nominating petition. For the common law approach, commissioners like Alice Taijeron raised concerns, noting, "I can't vote to accept this, I'm very concerned about what the statute states, I understand the impact. I'm very concerned by accepting this and moving forward and accepting common law what happens later on."

For independent member Pat Civille, he questioned if the common law rule were applied how does the commission verify the names. "How would the commission know if I put Joe Smith up there and somebody came in and said I'm Joe Smith, that that's the person that's known in the community as Joe Smith," he inquired.

A motion was made to accept all the candidates who are qualified and presented by the executive director as written on the sample ballot that would include Romeo Carlos. In essence what the motion did as noted by chairman Joe Mesa was to follow the common law practice. The motion originally failed but after a short recess, commissioner Martha Ruth moved to reconsider the motion. It eventually passed with four voting in yes with Taijeron and Civille voting against. 

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