Politicians with "subjective views" are a challenge

Samoan politicians' "subjective view" of the electoral process and its legal reforms is a major challenge for the Office of the Electoral Commissioner.

The challenge facing the Office of the Electoral Commissioner was highlighted in its Annual Report for the Financial Year 2018-2019, which added that the position of the country's political leaders could narrow the scope to serve their own interests.

Despite the challenge facing the Office, the annual report stated that the reforms the Office is spearheading are taking an objective approach to ensure citizens take ownership of the electoral process. 

“Whereas the reforms are taking an objective approach to ensure that every voter candidate and citizen of Samoa embraces and trust our elections," stated the report.

The annual report also highlighted what the Office described as a lack of understanding by members of the public of the registration process requirements. 

“Members of the public have very little knowledge and understanding on the requirements for the registration process, in the areas of new registrations and amendment of voter details. The mindset of members of the public during registration fieldwork activities."

"People showing no interest and appreciation of the registration field work carried out in the village, which benefit them in terms of costing and time constraints and easy accessibility,” stated the annual report.

The Office has also delivered educational and communication programs through the national voters day annual event, which the annual report said will enhance community participation, especially youth in electoral administration. They will also learn more about their statutory duties and obligations as citizens entrusted with the right to elect political leaders of Samoa.

“The Office of the Electoral Commissioner is continuing to constantly review the electoral rolls to confirm the number deceased voters and remove their names from the electoral database to ensure the accuracy of the rolls.

"The restriction in the authority of the Office of the Electoral Commissioner – to remove deceased names from the roll – making it difficult to achieve this purpose. 

"For this, a proposal in the new electoral act will expand legal authority given to Office of the Electoral Commissioner to ensure accuracy. Our pre-registration project targeting the youth will be reaching the age of 21 on or before the 2021 election is proving to be a success," added the annual report.

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