“Congratulations; it’s over,” Alice Taijeron, the chair of the Guam Election Commission, remarked, after a lengthy process to legitimize the winners of the 2022 general election concluded.
It took about 12 hours to confirm that the preliminary results previously reported would go unchanged by required recounts and the inclusion of valid provisional ballots cast Nov. 8.
“The results of the recount was that nothing has changed from the original (results) that we did earlier,” Vince Camacho, GEC legal counsel, said when the commission reconvened to act upon the final accounting of votes cast. “So the next step would be to ratify and certify the original (results) we had.”
The GEC unanimously ratified the winning candidates who ran for governor, lieutenant governor, Guam’s nonvoting delegate to Congress, attorney general, senators and for seats on the Guam Education Board and the Consolidated Commission on Utilities shortly after 2 a.m. Thursday. Officials began vetting uncounted provisional and absentee ballots late Wednesday afternoon.
In particular, the process could have affected the results of two contests: attorney general and the final spot in the 15-seat Guam Legislature. The number of pending ballots was more than the number separating the preliminary winners and losers of those respective races.
But by early Thursday morning, it became clear the victors would not be unseated by adding new votes to the mix. Those unaffected include Douglas Moylan, now officially the attorney general-elect, who will be returning to the office in January. After including provisional and absentee ballots, Moylan’s victory over incumbent AG Leevin Camacho was by a razor-thin margin of 39 votes.
Moylan, at the conclusion of the GEC’s marathon meeting, which began at 2 p.m. Wednesday, expressed gratitude to the commissioners for their diligence in finalizing the election results.
“I just wanted to thank all of you for the hard work that was done this evening, and throughout the entire primary and general election process - especially your counsel, who was very helpful in explaining some of the processes that have occurred in the past few years,” Moylan said early Thursday morning, as the GEC meeting was concluding.
According to Moylan, he’s hoping the GEC will consider forwarding “some comments” he's made to the Legislature for its consideration. Ahead of the recount, Moylan expressed objections to counting valid votes that were cast, but not counted, during the general election.
Camacho, who had not conceded his loss pending the recount, posted on social media Thursday morning that he had called Moylan to congratulate him and offer his assistance during their transition period in and out of office.
“I am grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to serve Guam as attorney general for the last four years. It’s not a job I would have ever imagined holding, but I can say it’s been the greatest honor in my life so far,” Camacho wrote. “The election results did not go the way I had hoped, but I respect the will of our voters.”
According to the outgoing AG, the 2022 election serves as a reminder that every vote counts. Camacho also thanked his family and supporters for their “trust and belief” in his candidacy.
“We ran a campaign with a vision of working together to lift our people up. Win or lose, that is who I am. I will fight for the people of Guam as attorney general until my term is up, and then continue that work in a different role,” he wrote. “The work’s not done. Onward!”
The recount also solidified the victory of Sen.-elect Jesse Lujan, who, after the late-night process, finished 384 votes ahead of 16th place candidate Kelly Marsh-Taitano.
The other members of the 37th Guam Legislature, who will take office in January, will be Therese Terlaje, Darrel Christopher Barnett, Amanda Shelton, Joe San Agustin, Tina Muña Barnes, Frank Blas Jr., Thomas Fisher, Roy Quinata, Willam Parkinson, Christopher Duenas, Dwayne San Nicolas, Telo Taitague, Sabina Perez and Joanne Brown. The Democrats will hold a nine-member majority in the island’s lawmaking body next term.
Official certificates of election, which are presented by winning candidates as part of their inauguration, will be signed Monday, according to GEC executive director Maria Pangelinan.