My dear people of Guam,
Buenas yan Hafa Adai!
Today, I am asking Governor Calvo to champion democracy and take up the issues and concerns that have plagued the Guam Election Commission for many years, so that together, we can move this island forward.
Today, I am encouraging Governor Calvo to sign Bill 413 into law.
Last legislative session, the legislature took on a daunting task; electoral reform. After much debate and discussion, we passed Bill 413, submitted by the Guam Election Commission as mandated by law. I thank the Guam Election Commission in coming forward; for their courage and honesty; in bringing to light voting irregularities that has become a systemic malfunction of our island’s voting apparatus.
Our government is only effective as it is held accountable by its citizens and by their commitment to participate in the fundamental processes of democracy, such as developing an understanding of how our government functions, going to the polls to vote and by being attentive to the public issues that have a direct impact in their lives. This is why this bill is so important.
When we debated this bill and put forth the amendments, it was with the hope that the efforts would provide direct engagement with the electoral process; to promote access to the voting booth for all who have a right to it; to remove the impediments to voting and civic participation that disproportionately affect minorities, the poor, the elderly, the disabled and all others who have been unjustly disenfranchised, as well as to improve the voting process itself.
Too often, we have seen the corrosive cynicism that has diminished our people’s trust in our electoral process. Today, we have taken that step to bring trust back to our citizens. I thank Congresswoman Bordallo, who has endorsed this bill; because she recognizes that our current election law is flawed; a practice that does not provide a balanced electoral process. If we indeed believe that the power of a nation is in the hands of its electorate and that those elected into office are its servants then, Governor Calvo, you will have no problem signing this bill into law.
I would like to share a well-documented case.
In 1984, a delegate seat was stolen because of a flawed electoral system. A Notice of Contest was opened in the House of Representatives, in the matter of the 1984 election for the Guam delegate to the 99th Congress.
During the proceedings, it was revealed that when all the votes were counted, the challenger was given the victory, but did not garner the 50 percent plus one. Somehow, 10,616 had been purged from the registration list. Other irregularities were noted that included questionable absentee ballots, blank ballots and tampered ballots.
The incumbent who lost the 1984 election because of a flawed electoral process was Guam Delegate Antonio B. Won Pat.
In closing, I quote Richard Burden, a Member of Parliament, House of Commons, who said:
“I support electoral reform. It is not simply about making voting fairer. It is about making politics more relevant and creating a healthy democracy.”