Resolution pushes full voting rights, equal representation for territories

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Sen. Telena Nelson (file photo)

To further advance and advocate for full voting rights and equal representation for Guam, the senator overseeing federal relations introduced a resolution urging the U.S. Senate to take action on federal legislation expanding voting accessibility and creating a congressional task force on territorial voting rights.

Senator Telena Cruz Nelson introduced Resolution No. 38-36 on March 12, 2021, and issued notice for a virtual public hearing on the resolution for 5:30 p.m. Monday, March 22, 2021, via Zoom.

Resolution No. 38-36 is “relative to expressing the utmost support of H.R. 1, the For the People Act of 2021, and the creation of a Congressional Task Force on Territorial Voting Rights, and to further request the United States Senate to act swiftly to advance the critical reform efforts and provide parity to the island territory of Guam and all United States territories.”

The For the People Act of 2021 was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on January 4, 2021, and addresses voter access, election integrity and security, campaign finance, and ethics.

The bill passed the House by a vote of 220 Yeas to 210 Nays on March 3, 2021, and currently awaits action by the U.S. Senate. Included in the comprehensive bill is Section 2302, which provides for the creation of a congressional task force on the voting rights of citizen residents of U.S. territories.

The provision was included through an amendment proffered by U.S. Virgin Islands Delegate Stacey Plaskett in a similar House bill previously passed in 2019, however, that bill was never brought to the Senate floor for a vote.

If the bill becomes law, the congressional task force created would look into:

· Impediments to full and equal voting rights for United States citizens who are residents of territories of the United States in federal elections;

· Impediments to full and equal voting representation in the House of Representatives for United States citizens who are residents of territories of the United States;

· Recommended changes that would allow for full and equal voting rights in federal elections; and

· Recommended changes that would allow for full and equal voting representation in the House of Representatives.

The congressional task force, in carrying out its duties and providing stakeholder participation, would be mandated to consult with the governments of Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Senator Nelson wishes to send a reminder to federal legislators that citizen residents of Guam do not have full and equal voting rights in federal elections, or full and equal representation in the House. Senator Nelson further urges the U.S. Senate to take action on the bill and bring Guam and all U.S. territories a step closer to full and equal voting rights and representation.

“Our democracy is one of determined heroes fighting to give voice to the voiceless and defending the rights of the disenfranchised,” said Senator Nelson. “With this resolution, we extend our people’s plea for the full voting rights every American enjoys and the full representation afforded to every corner of America.”

(Sen. Nelson News Release)

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