Office cautions Village Councils

The Office of the Electoral Commissioner has warned village councils and matai who are interfering or influencing voters that they are liable under the law for such offense. 

Speaking to the Samoa Observer, Acting Electoral Commissioner, Faimalomatumua Mathew Lemisio said while they accept meetings called by villages to encourage people to vote, the same cannot be said about influencing them. 

“If they say to vote for who and who and you feel it’s unduly influencing you, that is unlawful,” said Faimalo. 

He said villagers who feel that their rights have been violated can lodge complaints with the Police.

Asked if his Office monitors such meetings if they receive calls from concern members of the public, Faimalo said no. 

“The thing is we do not want to get involved,” he explained. 

“We are independent and if we have solid evidence to refer the matter to police, then we’ll proceed with that but if people call us up and we ask for evidence and there is none people would perceive us as being not independent.”

As for concerns over candidates who are still fundraising, Faimalo said the issue would be how the money would be spent.

“Fundraising is not an issue because some fundraising is to pay for billboards, campaigning, advertisement and those things,” he said. “But once bribery is involved, then it’s different. 

“But for overseas-based fundraising is not an issue because our laws do not apply there.” 

The Office of the Electoral Commissioner encourages people to exercise their rights and cast their votes in March's general election.

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