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Resolution calls for a constitutional amendment on the qualifications of voters

A Senate Joint Resolution submitted into the fono calls for a constitutional amendment on the qualifications of voters in the territory.

The resolution proposes to allow individuals who have lived in American Samoa for over 20 years to vote in local elections.

The Preamble states, “It has been approximately 123 years for Tutuila and 119 years for Manu’a since we signed our Deeds of Cession with the United States.

Swains Islands joined the territory in 1925. Authority over American Samoa was placed with the US Navy until approximately 1951, 72 years ago.

This same authority was transferred to the Department of the Interior (DOI) in 1956, where it currently resides.

“Our constitution was adopted by our people in 1967. "It provided a framework based on the United States Constitution upon which our people could govern themselves.

“In addition to all the rights and safeguards we installed in our constitution, we also put in qualifications required for those who would vote for our local leaders; however, it was to US Nationals only. "The territory held its first-ever elections in 1977.

“US Citizens can be US Nationals, but not all US Nationals are US Citizens, thus the difficulty we find ourselves in today. Our island territory has grown much in the 56 years since we adopted our constitution. Our people have migrated to the United States and farther into the world."

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