More than three hundred eligible voters will be charged for failing to register for the upcoming General Elections on 4 March 2016.
So confirmed the Acting Electoral Commissioner of the Office of Electoral Commission, Faimalotumua Mathew Lemisio, during an interview with the Samoa Observer, a month out from polling day.
“From the database we were given about Births, Deaths and Marriages (statistics) about 300 were clearly identified without registration,” Faimalo said.
“We compared our data and that from B.D.M and that is how we identified those without registration. That (data) was those that are 21 years old and over but we have requested for other data so we can identify all those that have not registered.”
This means there is the possibility that more people will be charged for not registering.
According to Faimalo, the law clearly states that it is compulsory for everyone who is eligible to vote to register.
The registration process closed last year.
During the final week of registrations, the Office of the Electoral Commission remained open until 4am some days to accommodate last minute registrations.
Prior to that, O.E.C had run multiple publicity campaigns – including visits to public, private organisations and villages – to encourage people to register.
Asked if people were charged in previous elections for not registering, Faimalo said he was not aware of it.
Under the Electoral Act 1963, section 18B, Compulsory registration of voters, this is what it says:
(1) a person qualified to be registered as a voter under this Act shall (if he or she is in Samoa), make application in the prescribed form to the Commissioner of Electors for registration as a voter within 1 month after the date upon which he or she first becomes qualified to be registered as a voter.
(2) A person commits an offence against this section who being required by this section to apply for registration as a voter, during a period, knowingly and wilfully fails to do so.
(3) No person who applies for registration as a voter is liable to prosecution for an earlier failure to apply for registration.
(4) A person who commits an offence against this section is liable to a fine not exceeding 20 penalty units for a first conviction and to a fine not exceeding 40 penalty units on any subsequent conviction.
Meanwhile, the final poll stands at 116,000.
Despite many aspiring candidates having their posters up before registration of their candidacies, the nomination period will open on Monday next week.
At the moment, the Electoral Office is finalising voting booths, preparing administration and dealing with queries from the general public.