A new Electoral Act 2018 is in the pipeline. It should be tabled before Parliament by March this year, according to the Government.
The Act will be accompanied by the Electoral Constituency Bill 2018 and the Electoral Commission Bill 2018.
The reforms are part of the wholesale approach by Government to completely overhaul the local electoral processes to eliminate corruption and illegal practises during general elections.
That’s what Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi assured Parliament this week before taking a recess.
As a lead-up to the March Parliamentary session, a Constitutional amendment was also passed by the lawmakers in second reading this week which will allow a new amendment to the Electoral Act to add two more seats in Parliament.
If approved, it will increase Parliamentary seats to 51 but which electoral constituency will be affected is not certain at this point because this can only be determined after the Parliamentary review procedures.
The amendment has been referred to a Parliament Committee for review and recommendation back to the house in 60 days from now.
Public forums will be called to garner public view.
In tabling the Constitutional amendment, Prime Minister Tuilaepa called on the House Members to weigh reforms because it reflects the government’s genuine drive to weed out corruption from our electoral processes.
“Do what is right and what is just in the eyes of the beholder. It’s a cardinal sin to turn blind to what we as elected leaders are obligated by our sworn oaths. There is nothing to fear but fear itself,” Tuilaepa said.
“Elections are for everyone and providing every opportunity for every voter to register and vote is paramount."
“It is crucial to have a robust electoral system and for everyone to cast their votes freely in order to get the best candidates to run the government."
“Understanding how the electoral system works and the importance of voting are fundamental in a democracy."
“If the process of elections is corrupt, then we elect those in Parliament who make decisions that will have an impact to our country’s development.”
The Prime Minister noted the many changes to ensure the democratic process in Samoa’s parliament since H.R.P.P. came to lead the government in 1982.
“Since the H.R.P.P. came into office, we have government has initiated Electoral Commission of Inquiries after every general elections to tighten our electoral processes by weeding out the weaknesses identified after every general elections,” Tuilaepa recalled.
“I remember one of the changes was creating voting I.D's."
“This was 1982 and many voters were using the names of those who have passed away but their names were still on the electoral roll,” he said.
“This is another thing that needs to be addressed by the Electoral Office is to remove the names of all the dead people from the list,” added Tuilaepa.
All in all, the Prime Minister is looking forward to the reception from the House when the Bills are tabled in March.