Candidates and voters warned to adhere to electoral laws

Electoral Commissioner Faimalomatumua Matthew Lemisio has warned voters and candidates running in the Fa’asaleleaga No. 2 By-election to follow the electoral laws. 

Staff from the Office of the Electoral Commissioner, who are in Savai’i to undertake registration for the by-election, have encountered issues during the process.

“We have identified a young woman trying to use their sibling’s birth certificate to register when she’s already on the roll. Her biometrics records on our system confirmed that she’s already registered,” said Faimalomatumua. 

He told the Weekend Observer that their office – with the assistance of the Police – have charged the woman with misleading the Electoral Commissioner. 

Another concern is there are still people – who call themselves “committee” for certain candidates – who are transporting voters to the Electoral Commissioner’s Office in Apia and Savaii for registration. 

Faimalomatumua said the practice is illegal. 

“The new law prohibits any person from transporting people to register and to vote. That is not their duty. It should be every citizen’s obligation to register themselves as voters and also to participate in the voting process,” he added. 

Faimalomatumua also warned that the actions of the so called committee members can impact on their candidates.

 “There are already cases in the past where the Courts have found candidates of corrupt practices because of the actions of these committee members. 

“We urge them to allow people to vote on their own freewill.

For voters, we want to encourage them that their vote is important. It is an opportunity that is rarely available to them to decide who should represent their interests in Parliament.

“They shouldn’t be selling it or expecting any financial gains from it. It is their duties as citizens of this country to ensure that the electoral process is credible and that the leaders they choose through this process were elected in a free, fair and inclusive elections,” he said. 

Faimalomatumua further explained that the Fa’asaleleaga Nu. 2 By-election will be administered under the new Electoral Act 2019 and that all eligible voters will have to go to Savaii at Fa’asaleleaga Nu.2 to cast their votes. 

“There will be no more special booths outside of Fa’asaleleaga Nu.2. Citizens who’ve attained the age of 65 upwards, those with disabilities and those travelling outside of Samoa on the week of the by election (week commencing March 18) are required to apply to the Office of Electoral Commissioner for them to cast their votes before the polling day (pre-polling) starting from the 18th of March to the 21st of March 2019.”

They need to apply first starting Monday 25th of Feb until Friday 15th of March at 5pm. The By-election is schedule for March 22, 2019.

 Last week, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi cautioned the public against corruption and illegal practices during the election period and said it is the main reason the Government moved to amend the electoral laws. 

“We are trying to avoid having a corrupt election. All for valid reasons,” he said.

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