Chapter 01 - General Provisions
Chapter 01 - General Provisions
Chapters 01 through 12 of this title shall be known and may be cited as the “American Samoa Election Reform Act of 1977” and is applicable to all special, general and runoff elections where issues are presented or Territory-wide candidates, including but not limited to the Governor and Lieutenant Governor and the Delegate-at-Large, and members of the House of Representatives, are elected by secret popular ballot.
Whenever used in chapters 01 through 12 of this title, the following words and phrases shall, unless it is inconsistent with the context, be construed as follows:
(a) “Absent uniformed services voter” means:
(1) a member of a uniformed service on active duty who, by reason of such active duty, is absent from the place of residence where the member is otherwise qualified to vote;
(2) a member of the merchant marine who, by reason of service in the merchant marine, is absent from the place of residence where the member is otherwise qualified to vote; and
(3) a spouse or dependent of a member referred to in subparagraph (1) or (2) who, by reason of the active duty or service of the member, is absent from the place of residence where the spouse or dependent is otherwise qualified to vote.
(b) “Ballot”, including an absentee ballot, means a written or printed, or partly written and partly printed paper or papers containing the names of persons to be voted for, the office to be filled, and the questions or issues to be voted on. A ballot may consist of one or more cards or pieces of paper depending on the number of offices, candidates to be elected thereto, questions or issues to be voted on, and the voting system in use.
(c) “Candidate” means an individual who seeks nomination for election, or election to any elective public office.
(d) “Chief Election Officer” means the head of the election office or his designee.
(e) “County” means the counties of Sua, Vaifanua, Saole, Ma’oputasi, Ta’u, Fitiuta, Faleasao, Olosega, Fofo, Itu’au, Ofu, Tualatai, Leasina, Ma’upu and Lealataua.
(f) “District officials” means persons appointed by the Chief Election Officer to serve the purposes of this title.
(g) “Districts” means the representative districts established by law.
(h) “Election” means all elections, general, special, or runoff unless otherwise specifically stated.
(i) “Election officials” or “officers” means persons designated as officials by the Chief Election Officer to perform functions under chapters 01 through 12 of this title.
(j) “Member of the merchant marine” means an individual (other than a member of a uniformed service or an individual employed, enrolled, or maintained on the Great Lakes or the inland waterways):
(1) employed as an officer or crew member of a vessel documented under the laws of the United States, or a vessel owned by the United States, or a vessel of foreign-flag registry under charter to or control of the United States; or
(2) enrolled with the United States for employment or training for employment, or maintained by the United States for emergency relief service, as an officer or crew member of any such vessel.
(k) “Office” means an elective public office.
(l) “Overseas voter” means:
(1) an absent uniformed services voter who, by reason of active duty or service is absent from the United States on the date of the election involved;
(2) a person who resides outside the United States and is qualified to vote in the last place in which the person was domiciled before leaving the United States; or
(3) a person who resides outside the United States and (but for such residence) would be qualified to vote in the last place in which the person was domiciled before leaving the United States.
(m) “Qualified electors” means persons duly registered to vote.
(n) "Special election” means any single election required by constitutional provision or by law to be held to fill a vacancy or to determine a special issue and includes the special election of the Governor and Lieutenant Governor on 8 November 1977.
(o) “Voting system” means the use of paper ballots or any system by which votes are cast and counted.
(a) There is established in the executive branch of the American Samoa Government a permanent, independent election office. The election office is headed by the Chief Election Officer, who shall be appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Legislature.
(b) The term of the first appointed Chief Election Officer shall be four years, commencing on the date of confirmation by the Legislature. All subsequent terms shall be three years, commencing on the date of confirmation. If the Chief Election Officer vacates or for any reason is incapable of performing the duties of the office, the Deputy Chief Election Officer shall be the Acting Chief Election Officer. In no case may the Deputy Chief Election Officer serve as Acting Chief Election Officer for more than 180 days, whether consecutive or not, within one year from the first day served as Acting Chief Election Officer.
(c) The Chief Election Officer must be a person experienced and competent in running an election and records management, and be knowledgeable about election law.
(d) The Chief Election Officer may be removed from office by the Governor, only upon showing of one or more of the following causes: conviction of a felony or misdemeanor; mental or physical incapacity; gross mismanagement; or grossly unethical conduct. The Chief Election Officer is entitled to the same notice and hearing procedures provided for other government employees
(e) The election office shall have its own budget account and be included in the budget procedures of Title 10 A.S.C.A., provided for other executive agencies.
(a) The Chief Election Officer shall administer this title. He shall supervise all elections. He may delegate responsibilities in elections to election officials or to other specified persons.
(b) The Chief Election Officer shall be responsible for the maximization of registration of eligible electors throughout the Territory. In maximizing registration, he shall make an effort to equalize registration between districts, with particular effort in those districts in which he determines registration is lower than desirable. In carrying out this function, he may make surveys, carry on house-to-house canvassing, and assist or direct the clerk in any other area of registration.
(c) The Chief Election Officer shall maintain and keep all records and data concerning registered voters, elections, apportionment and districting. He shall use the data to assist in any reapportionment.
(d) No records of any kind may be removed from the election office without the prior approval of the Chief Election Officer or the Chief Election Officer’s designee.
Chapters 01 through 12 of this title shall apply to all elections, general, special or run-off, held in the Territory, under all voting systems used within the Territory, so far as applicable and not inconsistent herewith.
(a) The Chief Election Officer may adopt, amend, and repeal rules under the Administrative Procedure Act, section 4.1001 et seq., governing elections held under this title, election procedures, and the selection, establishment, use, and operation of all voting systems now in use or to be adopted in the Territory, and all other similar matters relating thereto as in his judgment shall be necessary to carry out the purposes of this title.
(b) In adopting, amending, and repealing rules for qualified electors who cannot vote at the polls in person and all other qualified electors, the Chief Election Officer shall provide for voting by those persons in a manner as to insure secrecy of the ballot and to preclude tampering with the ballots of these qualified electors and other election frauds. The rules, when adopted in conformity with section 4.1001 et seq., have the force and effect of law.
(a) The election office shall be staffed by no less than one Deputy Chief Election Officer and one experienced secretary, both selected by the Chief Election Officer, who shall be career service employees.
(b) The Chief Election Officer may employ district officials and other temporary election employees as he may find necessary, none of whom shall be subject to the career service or classification laws of the Territory or be required to become members of the employees’ retirement system.
(a) In case of permanent vacancy in the House of Representatives, the Governor shall call for a special election to fill that vacancy, the special election to occur within 60 days of the date the election call is issued. However, if any vacancy occurs within 3 months of the next regular election, no special election may be held and the Governor shall appoint a qualified person to fill that vacancy. Prior to appointing the person, the Governor shall consult with the county chief or county chiefs in the representative district concerned. A person elected to fill a vacancy or appointed by the Governor to fill a vacancy holds office during the remainder of the term of his predecessor.
(b) In the case of permanent vacancy in the seat of Delegate to the United States House of Representatives, the Governor shall call for a special election to fill that vacancy, the special election to be held within 90 days of the date the election call is issued. However, if any vacancy occurs within 6 months of the next general election, no special election may be held. Prior to appointing the person, the Governor shall consult with the District Governors of the Eastern District, Western District and Manu’a. A person elected to fill a vacancy or appointed by the Governor to fill a vacancy holds office during the remainder of the term of his predecessor.
Elections of members of the House of Representatives shall be held in each even-numbered year beginning on the first Tuesday following the first Monday of November and ending not later than 3 weeks thereafter.