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Bill considered to eliminate Guam primary elections

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A bill to eliminate primary elections draws opposition from both political parties. Republican and democrat representatives expressed reservations during a public hearing, about changing up the long-standing election tradition.

The bill by Senator Joe S. San Agustin would relieve the election commission from conducting the primaries. San Agustin has said taxpayers shouldn't have to foot the bill for what he believes is the responsibility of the parties.  But republican chairman Victor Cruz says a costly run-off election would almost be assured, creating more problems than its worth, noting, "There's a good chance that even after all this chaos and increased cost, the final outcome would result in a legal challenge by political parties calling the runoff results into question."

Democratic representative Joaquin Perez agrees the bill might not achieve the intended cost savings, and the longtime party official recounted past elections where runoffs resulted in "vote migration across party lines" that changed not just the results, but some might say the actual course of local political history.

"I believe just as passionately that when the suggestion is made to radically change the manner in which the electorates confidence is to be expressed, then out of simple courtesy, those proposed radical changes should be more thoroughly discussed between those that helped carry the water for the candidates and those who eventually got elected," he said.

And just to make sure, Guam Election Commission director Maria Pangelinan was asked by committee chair senator Michael San Nicolas to clarify. She said, "It would require a runoff election. So someone has to get 50 percent plus 1.  MSN: of the total votes cast? Not the ballots, that's what the supreme court was speaking towards, the difference between ballots and votes. Exactly, thank you senator."

Pangelinan says the election commission might have more to say after its meeting on Thursday.

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