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Candidates have until 4:30 Sat. to view sample ballots

Chief Election Officer Soliai Tuipine Fuimaono yesterday reminded all certified candidates for public office in this year’s Nov. 6 general election that they have until 4:30pm today to view sample ballots before the ballots go to print this weekend.

Soliai released the certified list of candidates at around 5:30pm Thursday but said certification of candidates for the office of governor and lieutenant governor as well as the House District No. 7, will be done later. (See yesterday’s first page story regarding the challenge in the gubernatorial race.) Soliai's ruling on the gubernatorial candidates certification was issued yesterday but Samoa News is awaiting the official notice before reporting it.

Since the deadline for candidates to correct their names has also expired, the names of candidates on the ballots will be printed as they appear in the foregoing list, he said. For those races, whose candidates were certified, Soliai said samples of the ballots are now available for viewing at the Election Office in Tafuna.   (See yesterday’s advertisement for full list of certified candidates.

Deadline to view ballots is 4:30pm today (Sept. 8) and viewing can be conducted by the candidate or a designated representative.

“It’s very important that certified candidates or their representative take time to come out to our office to view the sample ballot, which shows where the candidate’s name is placed on the ballot,” Soliai said yesterday.

Soliai also released Thursday a sample ballot of the referendum in this year’s election and the public is being asked to view the sample ballot at the Election Office and deadline for viewing the ballot is 12noon today (Sept. 8). A sample of the ballot is also printed in an advertisement in yesterday’s Samoa News.

The referendum ballot question - in English and Samoan - asks the electorate if the constitution should be revised to give the Fono the power to override the governor’s veto, rather than the U.S. Interior Secretary.

Soliai said yesterday this is an important issue for American Samoa and it's also important that voters know how the question is phrased on the ballot, which is for the voter to mark either “yes” or “no”.

Fono leaders are planning to conduct awareness and education programs using radio, television and probably the print media to discuss what this proposed amendment means to the American Samoa. A working committee of lawmakers is expected to be selected soon and charged with the awareness programs that could include setting up workshops at the village level.

Lawmakers are also being encouraged by Fono leaders to talk to their constituents by explaining to them what this referendum means.

The same referendum was placed on the 2008 general election ballot and was narrowly defeated. Some lawmakers at the time believed it was defeated due to the lack of public understanding about the issue.