Election Office considers submitting law related to emergency situations
The Election Office is conducting a legal review with the possibility of proposed legislation which would amend local law dealing with the postponement or cancellation of federal and state elections due to natural disasters or other forms of emergency.
This was revealed in the Election Office’s fiscal year 2013 third quarter performance report covering the period of Apr. 1- Jun. 30, 2013. It says the Election Office has completed and submitted the National Association of Secretaries and States (NASS) survey on Emergency Preparedness for Elections.
Three main issues were covered in the survey with the first one, asking whether American Samoa has a law authorizing the governor, the Secretary of State (in our case, this is also the post held by the Lieutenant Governor), State Elections Board, other state officials or a county or local official to cancel or postpone the administration of federal or state elections in areas of the state impacted by an emergency.
(The federal election in American Samoa is for the Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives.)
Additionally, “Whether or not American Samoa has a specific law as described above, what information is relevant and useful to the Task Force regarding any other laws, policies, or the state impacted by an emergency situation which could be cancelled or postponed”, the Election Office report says.
“This issue is currently under legal review and proposed legislation will be submitted to enact a law regarding postponement and cancellation of an election due to natural disaster,” it says.
A second question asked whether American Samoa has a law requiring state and/or local officials to develop election related contingency plans or other policies or procedures relevant to the administration of state or federal election in areas of the state impacted by an emergency situation.
In addition, whether American Samoa has an existing contingency plan — whether or not required by law — regarding policies and procedures relevant to the administration of state or federal election in areas impacted by an emergency situation.
According to the Election Office report, the proposed legislation dealing with the first question will include a contingency plan.
The third question deals with voters impacted by an emergency situation — asking whether the territory has laws or other policies and procedures designed to provide domestic voting by individuals in the state, who serve as first responders or other emergency designated personnel and have to leave the state or their voting jurisdiction with special methods for casting ballots. (This issue will also be addressed thru proper proposed legislation).
The report also notes that 34 new voter registrations were made during this quarter; six electors re-registered, and ten people were listed as deceased — based on information from the LBJ Medical Center — and their names removed from the voter roll.
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