Guam governor cancels primary due to COVID-19

Guam Governor Lou Leon Guerrero (D) signed a bill on August 28 to cancel the primary taking place on August 29 amid concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. Bill 391 was passed in the Guam Legislature by a 12-3 vote on August 27. The Guam Election Commission said that it wasn’t confident it could conduct a safe election while Guam remains under lockdown due to the pandemic.

Guerrero signed an executive order on August 27 to extend Guam’s public health emergency an additional 30 days. At the time of the executive order, Guam had recorded 1,232 coronavirus cases and 10 deaths. Governor Guerrero and Lieutenant Governor Josh Tenorio (D) both tested positive for coronavirus in early August.

Officials looked at options for postponing the primary, but any delay would prevent Guam from meeting federal requirements for the general election. Bill 391 extends the window for voters to cast in-office absentee ballots by 15 days. Absentee ballots will be accepted starting on September 19. The bill also requires that the Election Commission submits a safety plan to the legislature by September 14.

All primary candidates automatically advance to the general election on November 3. This means that some races will have multiple candidates from the same party on the general election ballot. In the election for Guam’s non-voting member in the U.S. House, incumbent Michael San Nicolas (D) is running against Robert Underwood (D) and William Castro (R) in the general election.

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Congressional filing period ends in Guam

On June 30, the filing deadline passed to run for U.S. Congress in Guam. The U.S. territory of Guam is represented in Congress by one at-large, non-voting member who is elected every two years. Guam’s current delegate is Michael F.Q. San Nicolas (D), who was first elected in 2018.
Rep. San Nicolas and two challengers filed for the seat. One, Robert Underwood, will be on the ballot with San Nicolas in the Democratic primary on August 29. William Castro is the other challenger, and as the only Republican in the race, he will automatically advance to the general election on November 3 and face the winner of the Democratic primary.
The origin of non-voting delegates in the U.S. House of Representatives dates back to the Continental Congress and the establishment of the Northwest Ordinance in 1787. Many territories would go on to become states, with Alaska and Hawaii being the most recent to do so in 1959. At that time, Puerto Rico was the only territory left with representation in Congress. Guam gained the right to elect a congressional delegate in 1972. Washington D.C., the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands also elect non-voting delegates to Congress.