The Office of the Electoral Commissioner is investigating an alleged election corruption case involving an elderly citizen whose registration was transferred without her knowledge.
In response to questions from the Samoa Observer, the Acting Electoral Commissioner, Faimalomatumua Mathew Lemisio, confirmed the incident.
He said they are likely to refer the matter to the Police for further investigation and possible charges under the Electoral Act.
The incident surfaced last week when the committee for a candidate in the Urban East roll visited the elderly woman at home.
“It was then we found out that my aunty's registration was changed from the individual/urban roll to Vaimauga i Sisifo -- without her knowledge or consent,” Asiga*, a relative of the woman told the Samoa Observer.
The Committee contacted the Electoral Office and the woman was summoned.
“They confirmed her details (is this you in the picture, what is your birth date and so forth), and also pulled out her file.
“That's when it got even more weird - in the file included some letters, one with all her details (name, date of birth, village, parents names, children’s names etc) but with a forged signature, and even more worrying, a supporting letter from our village pulenu'u (I never knew our area had one), a pulenu'u whom my aunty has never met or heard of before.”
Asiga said the incident shocked their family.
“I'm unsure about the process involved with changing your registration but I'm sure it involves having your I.D sighted in person.
“I'm shocked that someone walked into the Electoral Commission's office and changed my aunty's registration successfully without my aunty's permission, knowledge, or in the least, any of her identification.”
The matter though became more interesting.
“While being interviewed, the people at the Electoral Office brought in the lady who has signed off on the registration. My aunty says she had never seen in her life. I am assuming that this woman was paid by whomever this joker was.”
The elderly resident in question suffered a stroke a while back which has left her somewhat immobile.
“She's all well mentally, but physically has issues walking, as well as talking properly. I am unsure what this person's ulterior motive was in changing my aunty's registration, but it's a worry that this was able to happen -- and does throw in into question a lot of the internal processes of the Electoral Commission, and perhaps some of the gaps that can allow for any Tom, Dick and Harry to stroll in and do something so stupid.
“There's also the issue of privacy -- how the heck did this person get a hold of my aunty's personal details? We're unaware of who this joker is, but I am sure this pulenu'u would know if he had submitted a supporting letter.”
Asked for a comment, Acting Commissioner Faimalo confirmed that his Office accepted an application form to transfer the registration of the voter in question.
“This decision was based on the supporting documentation, which were in order, to justify that the voter was indeed eligible to have her registration transferred,” Faimalo said.
“Those documents were a letter of confirmation of residency from the pulenu’u and a letter from her family's matai to confirm her kinship within the Vaimauga Constituency.
“As the Form was submitted on the last day of registration, which was the last minute rush as hundreds turned up to register, the officer who accepted the Form could not recall the exact person who submitted it.”
According to Faimalo, if there was a forging of this voter' signature, “we suspect it was done by whoever turned up that night with the Form.
“We also suspect that it could be a committee member for a candidate.
“We have met with the voter concerned and in accordance with the Electoral Act have reverted back her registration on the Urban East Roll.”
In the meantime, Faimalo said “we are also considering the referral of this case to Police for further investigations.”
*Not his real name. Names have been withheld to allow the investigation to continue