|May 8, 2003
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
|WASHINGTON, D.C.—FALEOMAVAEGA INTRODUCES LEGISLATION TO RESTORE THE VOTING RIGHTS OF AMERICAN SAMOA’S ACTIVE DUTY SERVICE MEMBERS|
| Congressman Faleomavaega
announced today that he has once again introduced legislation to restore
the voting rights of American Samoa’s active duty service members.
“On May 7, 2003, I also wrote to Governor Togiola and forwarded copies of my letter to the Lieutenant Governor and the Fono,” Congressman Faleomavaega said. “As I said, last year I introduced two separate bills to protect the voting rights of active duty service members whose home of residence is American Samoa.”
“Each bill dealt only with the issue of federal elections conducted in the Territory and neither had any impact on how ASG chooses to conduct elections for local officials. Both bills also addressed the issue of runoff elections and the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA).”
“Due to limited air service and delayed mail, our active duty service members are disenfranchised as a result of our runoff elections being held only two weeks after the general election,” Congressman Faleomavaega said. “It is impossible for ballots to be prepared and returned in a two week period and local law requiring our soldiers to register in person is also contrary to the UOCAVA.”
“To provide our military members with the same rights and privileges as any other service member serving in the U.S. Armed Forces, I brought this matter to the attention of the late Governor and last year I also introduced two bills on separate occasions. The first bill I introduced called for primary elections and majority voting. ASG chose not to support this bill due to the costs associated with conducting primary elections. In response to these concerns, I did away with primary elections and introduced a second bill which would establish voting by plurality for the office of the Delegate.”
“Again, 49 out of the 50 states use plurality voting to elect their Representatives to Congress. Plurality voting minimizes costs to ASG and also provides active duty service members with an opportunity to participate fully in the federal election process. Although plurality voting resolves the costs of primary elections,” Faleomavaega said, “ASG asked for further time to review my second bill and out of deference to the Governor and the Fono I asked to postpone the hearing that was scheduled for July of last year.”
“It has been almost a year now and I am confident that ASG has now had time to review and consider the issue of how we conduct federal elections in the Territory. Having taken ASG’s considerations under advisement, I am now introducing a third bill to restore the voting rights of our service men and women. Simply put, this bill will establish voting by plurality for the office of the Delegate until such time as the American Samoa Legislature provides for primary elections and majority voting if so desired. In other words, the bill stipulates that the next election for Delegate in 2004 will be by plurality until and unless the Fono may decide to provide for primary election hopefully eight weeks prior to the general election.”
“At this time, I have asked for the support of the Governor and the Fono and I look forward to working with ASG on this most important matter,” the Congressman concluded.
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