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By Steve Limtiaco

HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Nov. 2) - Guam voters will have a lot to consider when they head to the polls for today's General Election.

It is time to select a new legislature, two new members to the Consolidated Commission on Utilities and new school board members.

Most villages also will be selecting a mayor or vice mayor, depending on whether those races were decided during the September primary election.

Doris Brooks, the island's first elected public auditor, is up for re-election, as is freshman Democratic Delegate Madeleine Bordallo. Both are running unopposed.

Superior Court of Guam Presiding Judge Alberto Lamorena III is up for a seven-year vote of confidence as is Judge Steven S. Unpingco.

Residents also will decide whether casino gaming should be allowed in large Guam hotels by casting their vote on Proposal A, sponsored by the Citizens for Economic Diversity.

Guam residents are not allowed to vote for president, but the question is on the ballot as a straw poll. Four years ago, Guam voters chose George Bush over Al Gore by a vote of 18,075 to 16,549.

Polling places open islandwide at 7 a.m., and close at 8 p.m.

Keep your pencils sharpened, especially if you live in Dededo or Yigo, because write-in votes will play an important role in selecting your school board members.

There are 54,940 registered voters, according to the Election Commission. The voter turnout during the last General Election, two years ago, was 74 percent.

There are not enough official candidates on the ballot to fill all 9 of the available seats on the Education Policy Board, which means as many as 5 seats will be filled by write-in candidates.

The Luchan school district, for some central villages, is the only district with enough officials candidates -- three people competing for two seats.

But there are no official candidates for the three vacant seats in the Lagu district, for Dededo and Yigo. The Kattan and Haya districts have two open seats apiece, but each has only one official candidate.

Any open board seats in a school district will go to those with the largest number of write-in votes, provided they are otherwise qualified and agree to accept the position, said Election Commission Executive Director Gerald Taitano.

There is no minimum number of write-in votes to qualify, which means a single vote could be enough to elect a school board member if no one else gets a vote.

Taitano said it could take several days for the Election Commission staff to sort through the write-in votes to determine which write-in candidates for school board were successful.

The Guam Election Commission met at the University of Guam field house yesterday evening for the traditional public test of the vote-counting machines.

Stacks of pre-marked paper ballots were run through the old counting machines, which read the pencil marks in the ovals marked by voters.

One specific ballot could not be run through one of the four machines, which kept spitting it out, citing an error in the code. According to the commission, part of the ballot's print had been scratched because of handling and could not be read by that machine. If that were to happen to a ballot on election night, the commission would replicate those marks on a fresh ballot form so it could be read, according to commission members. The other three counting machines were able to read all of the test ballots without error.

There were no tests performed on the new iVotronic electronic voting machines, other than to confirm that any votes had been cleared from their internal memory. The goal is to convert to electronic machines entirely by the 2006 elections.

November 2, 2004

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