Trio of bills promote online voter registration - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Trio of bills promote online voter registration

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 by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - In the last general election, only 71% of the voting electorate cast their vote - the lowest percentage for any gubernatorial election in Guam's history. However, a trio of bills before the Guam Legislature is hoping to change that.

Freshman senator Mary Torres hit the ground running introducing not one, but a trio of measures upon her first month in office. "I've introduced three bills to modernize and streamline voter registration on Guam," she explained.

Among the trio of measures include Bill 23 allowing for online registration. "And studies have shown that it saves tax payers dollars, it increases the accuracy of voter rolls, and it provides a convenience option for citizens who wish to register to vote," she added.

Torres says online voter registration is a growing national trend across the United States. It's a trend University of Guam graduate student Anthony Quenga supports. He said, "I agree with the intent of the proposed legislation that creates a voter registration process that is widely accessible and I think widening accessibility encourages stronger civic engagement from our citizens."

But not everyone is sold on the idea including Joe Garrido, who feared the proposal would open the door to "illegal aliens" or non-US citizens to vote. "I cannot support your bill at this point in time," he declared.

Torres says some of the antiquated requirements for identification can be an obstacle and need to be repealed. She says there are barely any documented cases of illegal aliens fraudulently registering to vote saying it's like getting struck and killed by lightning- "extremely rare." Daniel Perez meanwhile brought up concerns raised by the Mayors Council, saying, "If these bills were to pass it would be an injustice to mayors knowing that voters physically live in another municipality yet exercising their votes in other than where they physically live."

The island's mayors, who will go up for election in 2016, raised concern whether the bill guarantees that a person that registered online came from that actual district. Torres says her bill has nothing to do with residency issues, saying, "This bill neither makes the problems worse or helps the problem, because that's addressed in another section but I will certainly look at that and encourage more dialogue with the mayors and the Guam Election Commission about what we can do to get people to understand and be forthright about voting in their district and changing the registration when they move."

And while lawmakers head into session next week, oversight chair Senator Rory Respicio says the bills are not ready as they need the testimony from the GEC, the mayors, Rev & Tax and both political parties. Another hearing will be set at a later date. 


The Guam Election Commission was in attendance during this morning's hearing on Senator Torres' trio of bills regarding voter registration but did not provide any testimony. Executive director Maria Pangelinan says she is waiting for the commission to meet next week.  Pangelinan does tell KUAM News that the idea is a possibility but does not know the fiscal impact it may have to the GEC she adds the GEC does conduct some form of online registration but only for voters who are applying for an absentee ballot or who are off-island. As for registering to vote, she says the GEC does require proof of u-s citizenship through a passport of birth certificate but does not require any actual proof for what district they reside in. Pangelinan says voters sign an affidavit that he or she has been a resident of Guam for 30 days.

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