ELECTION COMMISSION LEGAL COUNCIL SAYS GUAM ELECTION IS NOT OVER,

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GUBERNATORIAL WINNER CANNOT BE DECLARED

By Jojo Santo Tomas

HAGATNA, Guam (November 5, 1998 - Marianas Variety)---Guam Election Commission (GEC) Legal Counsel Cesar Cabot said it best: "What looks deceptively simple is actually a multi-faceted issue."

While the results of Tuesday's election are unofficial until certified by the Guam Election Commission, one thing is clear -- a gubernatorial winner cannot be declared yet.

According to GEC Executive Director Henry Torres, the "most accurate unofficial results" show no majority vote for either Democratic incumbent Carl Gutierrez and Madeleine Bordallo; or for the Republican team of Joseph Ada and Sen. Felix Camacho.

Based on a pool of 48,515 voters, Gutierrez/Bordallo has 24,159 votes, or 49.79 percent of the electorate; while the Ada/Camacho team has 21,147 votes, or 43.58 percent.

There should be no question, said Gutierrez/Bordallo legal advisor Phil Carbullido.

"The statute could not be clearer," he said. "There is no doubt in our minds that the results give the Gutierrez-Bordallo team more than the 50 percent needed by law."

Campaign spokesman Sonny Shelton said, "For them to try and twist the laws is very unfortunate. It is time to get on with the business of healing. We can't afford to have continued political attacks hanging over our heads as the island prepares for the impending visit of President Bill Clinton."

Clinton is scheduled to arrive on Guam in two weeks.

However, the '98 legal opinion is based on a voter pool of 47,203 -- a number released before the final pool of voters was announced and not the GEC's number of 48,515.

GEC Chairman Joe Mesa said the differential is attributed to ballots with over or under votes, ballots with pen marks, or ballots that were rejected by the ballot machines.

Cabot said there's no telling when his legal opinion would be ready, but is well aware of the Organic Act statute which states a runoff election, if necessary, shall be held 14 days after -- in this case, Nov. 17.

It is important to note that should a run-off election occur, only those who voted on Tuesday would be allowed to cast their ballot again, said Mesa.

"The only voters who would be allowed to participate are those voters who voted in the General Election," he said. "Anybody who did not vote is purged from the list."

Congressman Robert Underwood will retain his seat, winning 70 percent of the votes cast. Republican challenger Manny Cruz garnered 22 percent of the votes.

Meanwhile, while most of the top 15 senators are a virtual lock for a seat, another X factor has come into play. There are 24,447 write-ins and several high-profile write-in candidates including Angel Santos, Tom Ada, Harold Cruz and Jose Terlaje.

Those write-ins, however, will inevitably include dozens of fictitious names like Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Bart Simpson.

There is no estimate on when the 24,447 write-in ballots will be finalized.

There is also a question of who will take the sixth spot for the Luchan School District Board. Only five candidates have declared.

For additional reports from the Marianas Variety, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Marianas Variety.

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