HAGATNA, Guam (CNN) – They can’t vote for president in November, but today, their votes to help choose the Democratic nominee for president will make a difference. So residents in the tiny U.S. territory of Guam, with its population of nearly 175,000, continue to line up in a steady stream to cast ballots for either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama.
Dededo resident Cathleen Moore-Linn stood in line for over an hour outside the old police precinct in Dededo, Guam’s most populated village. Despite the 90-degree tropical heat and no air conditioning at the polling site, she says, “Nobody left. A lot of manamko’ (elderly people) came out to vote. And people were filling out the forms to join the Democrat Party.”
At villages in the southern end of the island, which is far less populated, election committee member Nancy Weare says the voting is running smoothly. “There’s a constant flow of traffic, and good voter turnout.”
At stake are Guam’s four delegate votes at the national convention in Denver in August. Island voters today are electing eight delegates, who will each have a half vote at the convention. Two of Guam’s five superdelegates have already pledged one vote each to Clinton and Obama. The other three superdelegates, including congressional delegate Madeleine Bordallo, remain undeclared.
Vying for Guam’s delegate and superdelegate votes in their tight race for the nomination, the two remaining Democratic presidential hopefuls have inundated the island with radio and TV advertisements, each promising long-awaited political gains: the ability for Guamanians to be able to vote for president, lifting the territory’s cap on Medicaid, and perhaps the most coveted prize of all, war reparations in the form of over $120 million. A war reparations bill, sponsored by Bordallo, would issue payments to the survivors of Japan’s control of the island during World War II and would create educational and research programs about the occupation. The legislation is currently stalled in the U.S. Senate.
The polls closed on Guam at 8 p.m. local time (6 a.m. ET). Hand tabulation of the ballots is expected to take approximately three hours. In the island’s 2006 gubernatorial election, 55,311 people were registered to vote. The Democratic candidate received nearly 19,000 votes, and although voter turnout today is steady, election officials say it is not expected to be unusually high.