Compulsory voting is not the answer

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Dear Editor,

Re: Compulsory voting law in the pipeline

Compulsory voting and enticing voters through corrupt practices pursuant to our current election laws are two separate phenomenons.  

Compulsory voting will neither eliminate vote selling nor will change the mindsets of voters that candidates ‘own’ their votes. 

Compulsory voting will compel and/or encourage voters to vote but it does not have an impact on the choice of the voter for the candidate that the voter knows, feels or thinks gives the most benefits.  

I have no objection to the plan by government on compulsory voting.  Rather, I have been concerned by the numerous Court cases in the past after every election over the last two or three decades on claims by most people regarding election corrupt practices by most candidates and/or supporters.  

I respect the plans of the Samoa government and the Electoral Commissioner and highly applaud the work he does to improve and uphold ethical and moral election standards in Samoa.  My letter is to offer another perspective on elections in Samoa in order for the public and the readers to decipher based on their knowledge and experiences of Samoa elections over the years.  

According to the Election Commissioner, “Every time we come to elections we have voters who are saying ‘I will only vote if the candidate picks me up from house, take me to register, give me some money to buy some food’. 

That is the reality and no matter how much we’re saying it’s not happening, no it is happening and that is the trend. And under Article 13 it says that if it is affecting our moral standards of our society then the Government must do something about it.”  

Is compulsory voting the “something” the government is going to do to uphold our moral and ethical standards pre and post elections?  Well, I beg to differ.  

Compulsory voting is not the answer because it only deals with the voters.  What about the candidates – what is government going to do to prevent corrupt practices by candidates during the period prescribed by law leading up the elections?  

After what we saw in the 2016 elections where all potential court cases resulting from election corrupt practices were resolved amicably, there is a thinking amongst some candidates to engage in all illegal practices and violate election laws and push for out of court settlements afterwards.  Perhaps Samoa should consider legislation similar to other countries that would allow the candidates political campaigning. 

This will save the candidates and voters the energy, time, and money from spying on the activities of other candidates and their camps.  It will also reduce the possibilities of violence and feelings of animosity between everyone involved.  Furthermore, I would like to see in my lifetime a legislation that would allow Samoan citizens residing off-island to vote it the elections.  There is no question on the contributions of the many Samoans residing off-island to the development of our economy.  

 

Sincerely,

Pa’u Fuiavailili Nanai Vaafusuaga Roy Ausage 

D.ED.

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