This election process is cruel.
Just when we thought it was all over last Friday, well think again. This is one of them cases where the saying ‘it ain’t over until it’s really over’ couldn’t be more appropriate.
We’re talking about the nerve-wracking process for the preliminary winners whose futures in the political sphere hang in a balance as the final official count continues down at Mulinu’u.
With the exception of a few candidates whose results were clear-cut, the rest of the new members of Parliament face an extremely anxious wait.
You wouldn’t want to be in their shoes.
The first hurdle is surviving the official count where the special votes are opened and considered. The process is especially worrying for candidates whose first unofficial count results were very close.
And we’ve seen this already with a couple of results that have changed since Saturday’s unofficial announcement.
At Fa’asaleleaga No. 1 East for instance, a new Member of Parliament, Pauli Ivan Williams, has been declared. Contrary to the result announced on Saturday showing that Sili Epa Tuioti had won, the Acting Electoral Commissioner, Faimalomatumua Mathew Lemisio, has since corrected it so that Pauli is now leading the race.
Fa’asaleleaga No. 1 East is not the only constituency affected.
The results have also changed for Faleata West where Lealailepule Rimoni Aiafi now has a commanding lead with 963 votes ahead of Ulu Bismark Crawley and two other candidates. This is quite contrasting from the mere four votes that separated them on Saturday.
The changes have been attributed to “oversights” during the counting.
Believe it or not, it happens folks. The votes were counted by human beings and on Saturday morning, it was the end of a very long working week for many of them. This is why it makes sense for an entire week to allow the officials to check and double check the numbers.
“For Faleata West, the Deputy Returning Officer who called in the results had the votes for two candidates mixed up,” Acting Commissioner Faimalo explained.
“As we cannot open the ballot boxes once they are in, we had to check the official recording of the preliminary result at the booth and confirmed that the votes were actually mixed up.”
Faimalo said the mix up at Faasaleleaga No. 1 East was the result of a similar oversight.
“It was a similar oversight where the votes for some candidates were mixed up. Once we became aware of that mix up early Saturday morning, we then made the necessary changes in the presence of other media outlets that were still present during that time.
“At this point the final results of the elections are still being counted after we sorted out all the special votes that were casted by voters at booths allocated for special votes around the country.”
Speaking of special votes, these will no doubt play a major role in determining the outcome of the election in many of the constituencies.
With 6,765 special votes to be considered, that’s a lot of votes.
Once the official count is completed, the result will then be passed on to the Head of State, His Highness Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi, to endorse.
These are expected to be made public on Monday, prior to Parliament’s first session on Tuesday.
But that’s not the end of the road ladies and gentlemen.
Then the real fun begins with the election petitions.
By the sound of things, many petitioners and their lawyers are ready and raring to go. And on we continue…