Samoa celebrated National Voter’s Day yesterday.
It is the second year Samoa has celebrated the day under the organization of the Office of the Electoral Commission (O.E.C.).
A parade led by the Police band kick-started the celebration guided by the theme “To empower youth participation in elections".
Students from different colleges and youth groups participated. They also took part in a speech competition on the topic of: “If you were to run as a candidate from your respective constituency, what would be your message to the community.”
The Minister of O.E.C., Fa’aolesa Katopau Ainu’u said for years, national conversations on elections have always been placed on the back burner until months away from voting day.
“By the time voters and candidates start conversing about elections, it was rather too late to make informed decisions on how and why we exercise our rights to vote,” he said.
He challenged all young people attending the activities this year to make the most of it.
“Learn as much as you can from your other counterparts and see why it is important for you as young members of our society to be fully aware of your rights, duties and obligations under our Constitution and electoral laws.
“I even challenge you today to raise issues that you may feel will improve our electoral process. That is part of our civic duties as citizens of this country because elections are too important to be ignored.”
He reminded that a country could only prosper if its youth and future generations take part in this critical decision making process.
“On that note, I hope that the National Voter’s Day initiative will continue to raise awareness about the importance of participating/freely in elections and why your vote should be your sole responsibility and not anyone else,” he said.
“The National Voters Day which will now be commemorated every year to give our voters a sense of responsibility for their rights, duties and obligations accorded to them by law.
“They say we get a government that we deserve meaning that we as voters through free, fair and inclusive elections are given the same opportunity to have our say in electing who should be our government of the day.
“For that opportunity to be fair, electoral management bodies like the O.E.C. must ensure that our citizens are constantly reminded that their vote is counted when its time to vote."
He also acknowledged those who participated in this year’s celebration of National Voters Day.