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Eleven constitutional amendments go on the Mid-Term ballot

Tapa’au Dr. Dan Aga

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Eleven constitutional amendments will be included in the referendum ballot to be voted on by the voters of American Samoa come the Mid-Term election in November 2022.

A draft of the referendum ballot was sent out last week by the Office of Political Status, Constitutional Review executive director Tapa’au Dr. Dan Aga.

The amendments are listed in English and Samoan and these are the proposed amendments in English printed verbatim below.

#1. The Governor shall appoint the Chief Justice and Associate Justices subject to confirmation by the Legislature.

#2. The Secretary of Interior shall not have the power to change the decisions of the High Court of American Samoa.

#3. The Secretary of Interior shall not have the power to change the Legislature’s override of the Governor’s veto

#4.This amendment shall add one (1 ) seat to Representative District Ituau and add one (1) seat to Representative District – Tuala-uta. The total number of Representatives would increase from 20 to 22.

#5. This amendment shall include Malaeimi in Representative District #12 –   Ituau.

#6. This amendment will give the Delegate from Swains Island the right to vote in the House of Representatives.

#7. This amendment will restore five (5) Senators to Manu’a. The total number of Senators would increase from 18 to 20.

#8. This amendment shall include an impeachment process for the Governor and Lt Governor.

#9. This amendment shall change the name Government of American Samoa to American Samoa Government.

#10. This amendment shall change “Ma’uputasi” to “Ma’oputasi.”

#11. This amendment shall change “Leasina” to “Leasina ma Aitulagi.”

Tapa’au told Samoa News there were a number of concerns raised by the public during the last referendum ballot in 2010 due to the lack of options.

“There are two major differences between the 2010 and 2022 referendum ballot formats,” he said in response to our questions. “Instead of one single question for ALL of the amendments,  there are 11 separate amendments to which the voter can answer YES or NO.

 “Instead of more than 40 to 50+ amendments (depending on how you count the number of amendments), there are much fewer that now fit on one sheet.”

Tapa’au acknowledged the Election Office, Legal Counsel, and their chief translator for making the referendum ballot much easier for the voters and also the options given for each voter.

He also commended the Governor's Office for responding to the voters' concerns on the ballot format regarding clarity and accessibility.

 “We will be reaching out to villages, organizations, and the public at large to create a dialogue on these amendments.”

The approval of these amendments will be up to the 13,500+ registered voters.