House Speaker Savali Talavou Ale has written to Governor Lolo Moliga about the recent move by the Election Office to allow local residents who are stranded off- island to vote absentee in the upcoming general elections.
And he’s requesting that the Chief Election Officer immediately retract his notice granting absentee ballots to registered voters stranded by border closures.
Speaker Savali writes, “While most can agree that, given the surge in Covid-19 infections in the U.S., we should keep our borders closed, we cannot and should not violate the statutes that guide our elections by adding a process that is not prescribed or proscribed by law.”
He said that, 6.1101 A.S.C.A. provides a list of qualified electors who can vote by absentee ballot.
“That list does not include persons who are unable to return because of government action. Further, it identifies who may vote by absentee locally and the process on how to receive and cast that ballot. Again, this excludes qualified electors which the Chief Election Officer recently allowed to mail-in an absentee ballot.”
Savali tells Governor Lolo, “I think it’s prudent to also point out in this letter that the emergency powers granted to the Governor or the Director and the Department of Health in Titles 13 and 16 of the Code do not authorize the unilateral amending of election law. That requires the proper passage of legislation by the Legislature and your approval.”
The Speaker’s letter concludes, “For the reasons mentioned, I request that the Chief Election Officer immediately retract his notice granting absentee ballots to registered voters stranded by border closures.”