The 2022 Guam primary elections happened in August, but the results were just certified on September 13. The Guam Election Commission convened on Tuesday to approve the results of the primary and the ballot placement for the general election.
As the commission certified the results, several issues with the election arose. Specifically, some reasons to explain the historically low voter turnout came to light.
One of the main issues mentioned by voters was the inability to leave work to cast their ballots. Many employers did not allow their employees to leave work to vote, despite the law surrounding this issue.
The GEC noted the ability for employees to have a two-hour administrative leave that can be applied in early voting. However, to a certain extent, it is up to the employer how they want to grant the leave.
Chairperson Alice M. Taijeron said, “I would also like to indicate to employers that we have early voting and we are encouraging early voting. And, if I am not mistaken, (administrative) leave also applies to early voting regardless if we change the time or have it on a Saturday. I want to share that with the community. We had a lot of issues and calls from employees not being allowed to leave to vote.”
To combat this issue in the general election, the GEC wants to make the two-hour administrative leave more accessible and raise awareness through local media.
Another issue working citizens faced was the inability to vote in the early voting centers. The centers were closed on Saturdays, making them inaccessible for people working throughout the week.
The early voting results of the Republican Party illustrated this issue. According to the Chair of the Republican Party of Guam, Juan Carlos Benitez, 65% to 70% of early voters were retirees and employees of Guam’s government. He also said, “there was definitely an under-representation of the private sector of the working class in Guam.”
In addition, Guam instated a Motor Voter program prior to the primaries. The program allowed voters to register through the Division of Motor Vehicles and the GEC. Multiple candidates reported being turned away from voting centers for not being registered at the precinct.
These issues may have contributed to the low voter turnout in the 2022 Guam Primaries. Looking forward, the GEC discussed and offered solutions to these problems in an attempt to have a smoother general election.