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Senator sponsors bill to eliminate “team" voting for Gov & Lt. Gov

Sen. Soliai Tuipine Fuimaono

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Senator Soliai Tuipine Fuimaono is sponsoring a bill seeking to amend election laws and create “separate election races” for Governor and Lt. Governor.

The bill was introduced yesterday in the Senate in its first reading.

According to the measure, 26 states have team elections for governor and lieutenant governor in their general elections.

 “Seventeen states elect their governor and lieutenant separately.

 “Three states do not have an office for the lieutenant governor.

“The Secretary of State (a separately elected position) is first in the line of succession to the office of governor [in the 13 states that hold separate elections for governor and lt. governor] and four states dictate their Senate president is first in the line of succession for the office of governor, and there are strengths for voting for the office of governor and lieutenant governor separately.”

The bill outlines that If elected separately, the lieutenant governor has the independent strength of a statewide election, to lead the territory on key issues, sometimes even providing a different point of view.

This would require the newly elected lieutenant governor to develop his or her office, duties and responsibilities as the lieutenant governor and Secretary of American Samoa, pursuant to the American Samoa Code annotated and the American Samoa Revised Constitution.

 “And the newly elected lieutenant governor would have a significant opportunity to mold the policies that guide American Samoa, and in stepping up and taking a more critical role in projects and initiatives.

 “The separate election of governor and lieutenant governor will allow the residents of American Samoa a more pronounced voice in how they want to be governed and in who will govern them.”

According to the proposed amendment, Section 1. 4.0103: Nomination Procedures — would read that that the candidates for the offices of Governor and Lieutenant governor shall be nominated separately by filing a petition in the same manner as candidates for member of the House Of Representatives except that the nominating petition for candidates for Governor and Lieutenant governor shall be signed by at least 300 qualified electors without regard to their representative districts.

Under Sec. 2 Election Procedures: it should read that the Governor and Lieutenant Governor shall be elected separately by a majority of the votes cast by qualified electors.

“Each vote shall be applicable to both candidates. If no candidates receives a majority of the votes cast in any election, on the fourteenth day thereafter a runoff election shall be held between the candidates for Governor and Lieutenant Governor receiving the highest and second highest numbers of voters.

“The election office shall prepare the necessary policies, procedures, petition and documents to ensure the integrity of the separate  election for governor and lieutenant governor, pursuant to elections laws.”