Two lawmakers in American Samoa have sponsored a Senate bill, to its law, allowing foreign permanent residents to vote in elections.
Samoan citizens dominate the number of foreigners living in the US territory.
Samoa News reported that according to the bill, the “application to register” provision of local election law, by adding a new provision pertaining to permanent residents voting in elections.
The proposed new provision states: “the person may be a permanent resident of American Samoa who holds a valid permanent resident immigration identification card pursuant to [local law] 41.0403, must live in American Samoa for 30 years consistently and pay taxes for 20 consecutive years.”
Additionally, “the individual shall provide proof to the Election Office.”
According to the bill’s preamble, American Samoa’s permanent residents “live under and abide by the same laws set forth by the Legislature for the entire territory, however, they have little to no power over selecting the representatives that make those laws.”
Furthermore, permanent residents who have lived in the territory for 30 consecutive years and have paid local taxes for 20 years “have proven that they are loyal to our territory and should be afforded this most basic right” to vote.
It also says that allowing permanent residents to vote would benefit society by promoting inclusion among all the territory’s residents.
“Allowing them to vote will also encourage continued allegiance to our territory and to the United States,” the preamble noted. Samoa News points out that this is not the first time that such legislation have been introduced in the Fono over the past years and none has been successful.
In previous legislations, there’s support for such a move for long-time permanent residents, especially — as they argued — “we have lived here for many years and pay taxes to the government” as well as continue to contribute to the welfare of American Samoa.
No mention is made in the legislation as to whether or not voting by permanent residents would be limited to local House races.
SOURCE: Samoa News