Senators to debate primary election reform bills; San Agustin bill favors Underwood



By Eric Rosario

eric@kanditnews.com


Senators this week will consider two bills that will change this year's elections if either bill becomes law.


Speaker Tina Muna Barnes has called the legislature into emergency session Wednesday at 10 a.m. And while the Speaker's Office has not confirmed which bills will be on the agenda, legislative sources have confirmed Bills No. 330, 374, and 375 will be placed on the agenda by senators Wednesday morning.


Bills No. 374 and 375 are competing measures to change the primary election for this year alone. Bill No. 374 would cancel the primary election for uncontested races. It was sponsored by Sen. Joe San Agustin.


Bill No. 375 will cancel the primary election altogether. It was sponsored by Sens. Jim Moylan and Therese Terlaje.


Bill No. 330 would expand the qualifications for absentee ballots, and allow people to vote by absentee ballot during this public health emergency.


Mr. Moylan on Kandit Live this morning said he and Ms. Terlaje drafted their bill with two considerations in mind: reducing public health risks, and saving money.


"With the concerns associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, and minimizing risks related with large social gatherings, the measure would allow all candidates who are on the Primary Election ballot to advance to the General Election in November," Mr. Moylan said. He also said not having a primary election will save taxpayers about $350,000.


San Agustin's Underwood-interest legislation

Mr. San Agustin's version of election reform will cancel the primary election for uncontested races. These would include a Republican primary for Washington delegate, the primary election for Democratic senatorial candidates, and primaries in 10 villages. The remaining nine villages - mainly in central Guam - were strongholds for the failed gubernatorial campaign bids of former Congressman Robert Underwood, who is challenging Congressman Michael San Nicolas in this year's democratic delegate primary.


The move is seen as a way to give Mr. Underwood as much of an electoral advantage as is possible, as Republican supporters of Mr. Castro in at least nine villages will be free to vote in the Democratic primary for whom they perceive to be the weaker candidate against Mr. Castro in the general election. Polling data suggests the weaker candidate by far would be Mr. Underwood.


Mr. San Agustin's legislation may be considered conflicted and special interest in nature: Mr. Underwood works for him in Mr. San Agustin's senatorial office.

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