The U.S. House of Representatives passed election legislation last Wednesday with protections for Marianas voters that Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) said he has been working on since 2010 when he introduced H.R. 6381.
That bill, which Sablan had introduced in September 2010, seeks to clarify the application of certain federal laws relating to elections to the CNMI, Guam, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The bill was subsequently referred in December 2010 to the House Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties.
Sablan said in his e-kilili newsletter over the weekend that the House-passed legislation, H.R. 1, includes his language extending to the Marianas federal prohibitions against manipulation of elections processes by public officials, against aliens voting, and against intimidation, threats, or coercion of voters. Penalties includes fines and imprisonment. Rep. John P. Sarbanes (D-Maryland) introduced H.R. 1 last January.
Sablan said H.R. 1 also creates a new Congressional Task Force on Voting Rights of United States Citizen Residents of Territories of the U.S. to look at how the lack of right to vote for President and to have full representation in the U.S. Congress harms the economy and society in the insular areas and to recommend how these voting rights can be extended to all.
“To make it easier to vote, H.R. 1 makes registration automatic, unless declined, for students and persons using Medicaid and other federal programs; and the bill provides funding to state and territory governments to cover this cost.”