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Ballot listing all amendments together criticized

By Fili Sagapolutele PAGO PAGO, American Samoa, (Samoa News, Nov. 3, 2010) - Voters in the territory overwhelmingly rejected revisions to the 1967 Revised Constitution of American Samoa, which means all amendments approved at the 2010 Constitutional Convention were voted down, despite a call from many traditional leaders for a "yes" vote.

From the total number of ballots cast (10,917), the "yes" votes received 3,257, or 29.8 percent and "no" garnered 7,660, or 70.2 percent, according to unofficial results.

The "no" vote came out on top in each of the 17 districts as well as on the absentee ballots counted at the Election Office.

There was strong criticism over the way the amendments were put to voters with only a one- question ballot answering "yes" or "no" to pass or reject them in total.

While there was little public campaigning to defeat the referendum, Samoa News received reports that the "coconut wireless" worked overtime reaching out to families and others to vote "no." Samoa News also learned of strong campaigning in Tualauta county, the most populous county in the territory, where reportedly there was a concerted effort to defeat the referendum ballot.

According to the results, 1,024 Tualauta voters cast a "no" vote for the referendum, while only 415 voted "yes".

The only visible public campaigning against the referendum was a wave held two weeks ago in Utulei and in the few days leading up to the general election, a group called the Tafuna Residents Association Inc. put out a paid advertisement urging voters to reject the ballot.

"The amendments drafted and passed for approval at the Convention should have been separated, item by item and placed individually on the ballot (some are good, some are bad), they weren’t," said the group’s ad, which echoed what many local residents said should have been done in the first place.

In the lead-up to the election, Chief Election Office Soliai Tuipine told lawmakers that after consulting with government attorneys and some other attorneys, it was found that it is appropriate to put out the amendments as one question.

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