Ombre Ga’chong: Early voting hurts democracy

Lee Webber

By Lee Webber

Voting was never meant to be a convenience. It is a civic responsibility in a free republic.

There are far too many countries around the world where citizens are not free to vote for their leadership. They suffer terribly because of it.

Fortunately, we are not faced with that reality, yet!

Now to my question: What conceivable, rational reason could there be to continue early voting on Guam?

If Florida can count 7 million+ ballots in one day, why can’t it be done everywhere? Here on Guam, we have maybe slightly more than 50,000 voters so no excuses at all for needing more than one day for counting locally cast ballots!

Short of being off-island for election day or suffering from some physical inability to get to the polls, there is really no reason to conduct early voting on Guam.

And, if you are going to be off-island, bring along your proof (likely an airline ticket) to be able to vote slightly early. If you suffer some disability the election commission staff can come to your home.

This has been the historical practice on Guam. 

No matter the reason it stopped, it must be restarted!

Now, I can certainly understand why incumbent politicians would want to see early voting.

It lessens the ability of their competitors to use negative historical information about them. 

Normally in election cycles negative or forgotten information on incumbent candidates is saved for the last few weeks or even days of election competition.

Early voting allows incumbents the ability to avoid such electioneering behavior that can be used to remind voters concerning any negative behavior while they were in office that can be used against them.

Even if the voter changes their mind after hearing or learning of some harsh truth they had long since forgotten, once a vote is cast, it cannot be rescinded. 

All the more reason to have everyone (short of those few groups mentioned earlier) cast their ballot on election day.

Another and even greater reason to mandate election day only voting (particularly for the Governors race) is that voters get shortchanged when they are denied the ability to actually see and listen to the major candidates debate publicly on significant community or historical issues.

If a candidate is unwilling to publicly debate their opponent on the major issues facing the community they desire to lead, then there is very likely a significant problem with their ability to lead.

Public political debate has long been the hallmark of our free republic since its inception.

The voting community has the right to hear their respective candidates’ plans for the community and how they intend to initiate those plans if elected.

We should not permit voting (short of very few exceptions) prior to being able to listen to and view those public debates.

And, those debates should be held before the primary and general elections. They should be held multiple times during the day and evening to allow all voters a chance to see and listen to the candidates. 

Allowing voting before the final debate — just before election day –shortchanges every voter of the opportunity to change their mind on who they believe will make the best candidate for a particular community-paid position.

While we are at it, why not schedule more public debates for senators as well?

They are key members of our triad form of government and the people have just as much, if not greater, right to hear from them in public debate as well.

It will also give the voting public a better sense on how they stand on being the true third arm of our governing triad.

While this may be more complicated, it would certainly give the voting public a much better idea of how articulate, intelligent and persuasive these potential legislative candidates really are.

Their jobs are to make and rescind laws, establish government budgets and be a functional balancing arm against an overbearing administration.

Open public debate has long been the cornerstone of our form of governance and allowing it to be cast aside only weakens the underpinnings of what has made our form of governance stronger and more balanced.

Allowing incumbent politicians to change that only takes away the freedoms that our forefathers bled and died to make possible in our form of government.

But don’t take my word, you don’t have to look very far! 

Look at what is happening in the mainland in places like California, Arizona, Nevada and numerous other states. Politicians have been allowed to twist the systems for their own personal gain.

In the long run those who suffer will be the quiet, complacent citizens who permit themselves to get sucked into this vortex of this type of political control.

Politicians line their pockets while citizens line up for handouts to fuel their cars and buy their groceries.

While unnecessary, any sitting governor can elect to make election day a government holiday just like our current governor made “Black Friday” a holiday. 

If they really found it necessary, they could call it ‘Freedom Tuesday.”

Let’s Make Guam Great Again!


Lee P. Webber is a businessman and civic advocate, the former publisher of the Pacific Daily News, a former president and publisher of the Honolulu Advertiser, and a former director of operations for USA Today International/Asia

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