Samoa’s election app is here … now even iPhone users can get on board

Samoans can now make Apple ID and developer ID, thanks to the Office of the Electoral Commissioner’s (O.E.C.) new app.

Last month, the O.E.C. was ready to release their new app into the community, but Apple’s licensing rules appeared to exclude Samoa from launching on the App Store.

Samoa did not feature on the list of countries one could select from when making an Apple ID account, meaning not only could consumers not have accounts but neither could developers.

That meant Palota Samoa, the new O.E.C. app designed to make voting more accessible was only good for Android users. But that is no longer the case.

After enquiring with Apple as to why Samoa has been excluded from the list, the problem has been resolved.

Samoa has been activated for Apple ID this week, meaning iPhone users can download Palota Samoa as well.

The next step for the Office is to push their app to Apple’s store and get as many users on board as possible.

I.T. Manager and the designer of the commission’s app, Mailo Henry Mailo, said he felt Samoa needed to make a lot of noise to get Apple to put them on the map. 

The Office of the Electoral Commission raised the issue with Apple nearly two months ago, and were told to continue emailing them, and to encourage other developers to reach out to tell Apple how much demand there is here.

Mailo said the barrier had been quite disappointing.

“The disappointing thing is that Tokelau, Wallis and Futuna, Tuvalu, Tonga, they were all there, except us,” said Mailo.

In the meantime, Mailo and his team had a deadline to meet.

With his brother in law in Australia, Mailo has someone who could create an account on behalf of Palota Samoa to get the app running for iPhones. Despite being up and running, Mailo said he’s relieved to know he can do the work from Samoa instead.

“With the two-factor authentication, it makes it harder to get work done, especially with the time difference,” he said.

Two-factor authentication requires one to input a code sent to a phone via text when logging in. While the security benefit is great, it’s not so helpful when the account receiving the log-in texts is halfway across the Pacific.

“The thing is, we already paid AUS$150 to open the account, so maybe we’ll just have to pay that again,” he said.

Electoral Commissioner Faimalomatumua Matthew Lemisio said he was pleased with the news.

Palota Samoa is one of the ways the commission wants to help the office increase public access to information about elections.

Samoans will be able to preregister to vote using the app, update their information and by 2020 they will be able to surf information about the candidates standing for election in 2021.

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