Based on the Guam Election Commission's calendar, only 219 days remain until the primary election in August.
And in November of this year, Guam voters get to choose a new set of elected officials.
After the primary election, the general election will take place in November. Voters will choose Guam's congressional delegate, senators, public auditor, mayors, vice mayors, six seats on the Guam Education Board and two seats on the Consolidated Commission on Utilities.
This leads us to Bill 246-35, legislation that proposes to rewrite parts of Guam's election law.
Former Sen. Robert Kitzkie, an advocate for good and open government, calls attention to Bill 246-35 as legislation that, if fully unwrapped, actually proposes not one but eight bills.
Part of the proposed change would increase fees for filing for candidacy for certain positions.
"Provisions creating a slush fund for a new autonomous Election Commission, slamming two former senators as a means to strengthen party discipline, and pander to GovGuam employees, inter alia, are nicely camouflaged by 13 sections which at least arguably deal with technical election matters," Klitzkie wrote. Klitzkie was referring to Delegate Michael San Nicolas, who defeated longtime Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo in a stunning upset, and former Sen. Frank Aguon Jr., who ran as a write-in gubernatorial candidate after losing the Democratic Party primary. Counting write-ins in favor of a specific candidate would be a thing of the past if this proposal becomes law.
With the election just months away, it might be prudent to hold off on changing laws that could – even if unintentionally – help bolster the chances of incumbents who want to stay in office.
The Bureau of Budget and Management Research also has voiced concern over certain proposed changes.
Making election day a holiday means an added cost of $504,000 to the government of Guam, the bureau stated.
And allowing the Guam Election Commission to be fully self-operating, including managing its own cash and how it's spent – $1.4 million in the latest fiscal year – would remove checks and balances that have been in place for decades, the bureau stated.
With the election this close, senators may want to restrain themselves from changing the rules.
We urge caution.