Race is on for Guam delegate seat in Congress

by Aug 13, 2020Elections, Guam, Headlines0 comments

On November 3, Guam will hold the 2020 election for its non-voting seat in the US House of Representatives. Voters will choose one member to serve two years as a representative of Guam’s at-large congressional district. As a territory, Guam’s delegate is non-voting, meaning that they can carry out many of the duties and functions of a representative, including introducing bills and amendments and speaking on the US House floor. However, they do not hold the power to vote on legislation. In this fashion, Guam and other territories are able to maintain at least partial representation in Congress. 

The deadline for candidates to file to run for the seat passed on June 30. The democratic primary candidates are incumbent Michael F.Q. San Nicholas and Robert Underwood. The republican candidate is William Castro. The primary election to choose candidates to represent each party will occur on August 29. 

COVID-19, however, has introduced some difficulty to the voting process, leading to the debate over whether to carry on with the primary election. One option is to expand on absentee ballots, allowing most voters to send in their ballot from home and eliminating the dangers of in-person voting. Absentee voting may be more prevalent as lawmakers consider how to proceed with the general election. 

Alternatively, Senator James Moylan introduced bill 375, which called for the canceling of the 2020 primary election altogether and allowing all candidates to proceed to the general election. The bill cites the potential health and public safety issues that the election could incur regarding the spread of COVID-19. By cancelling the election, Guam could avoid further public health risks and focus more on ensuring the safety of voters in the general election in November. 

Enforcing this bill would save a lot of money that could go towards the general election, but it may also result in a runoff election. The process of electing a delegate requires that one candidate must receive at least 50% of the votes. If the primary election is cancelled, then three candidates would be running in the general election, leading to a possibility that no candidate receives a majority of the votes. In this instance, the top two candidates would participate in a runoff election within two weeks. The delegate seat in Congress is not the only position that may have this result, as many local mayoral positions face similar circumstances if the election is fully cancelled.