Five people charged over Fa'asaleleaga no.2 by-election

Five people have been charged for allegedly providing false information about their residential status in relation to the Fa’asaleleaga no.2 by-election held in April this year. 

Electoral Commissioner Faimalomatumua Mathew Lemisio confirmed two sui o nu’u (village representatives) and three voters have been charged from the Fa’asaleleaga no.2 by-election. 

In response to written questions from the Samoa Obsever, Faimalo said the sui o nu’u are charged for attesting to false information to verify residential status of voters. 

The voters have been charged under section 23 of the Electoral Act 2019 with making a false declaration. 

“The voters who could not verify their residential status within the Electoral Constituency were taken off the roll and did not participate in the by-election,” said the Commissioner. 

“The most important factor that is intended by the law here and a message to be clearly pass out to the community is the role of the community or those that are trusted by the community and the Electoral Office should be carried out with honesty and seriously. 

“These are the people trusted to assist in carrying out a fair and corrupt free election.”

Faimalo emphasised the work of the village representatives is highly regarded in the electoral process, particularly in terms of “cleaning the roll and ensuring that the voters registered in a Constituency are able to vote a member that can well represent them in parliament.” 

The five accused will appear in Court on 28 August for hearing. 

Based on the 2016 Census the number of eligible voters residing in the Fa’asaleleaga no.2 is 1,213. 

However, a total of 3400 people were registered in the constituency to vote on the day of the April by-election.

In a previous interview with Faimalo, he explained the difference in numbers relates to the census not capturing those, who reside outside of the constituency, including matai. 

Under the old Act, there was a “matai connection” requirement, which allowed people who don’t reside in the constituency to register there.

The requirement is no longer part of any definition of voters' eligibility. 

Currently, eligibility for voters is defined only by their residence and, if they are a matai, they have the option to register where your matai title is from or where they reside. 

A recent amendment to the Electoral Act made it an obligation for everyone to register and to cast their vote. 

Following the Fa’asaleleaga no2. by-election, there the Electoral office recorded 1013 non-voters.

But after going through the process of verifying those that have migrated and passed away the final number of non-voters stood at 423. 

The Electoral Office has been giving out public notices on those who did not cast their votes to pay a penalty fee of $100 tala. 

Failure to pay will mean the matter will proceed to Court. 

According to Faimalo, the office is in the process of filing the matters of those who were served with penalty notices twice. 

“As you are aware, this is a new requirement of the law and we’re taking every step to ensure that it’s being implemented properly,” he said.

“To date, 60 people have paid their $100 fine. And [there are] more to come.”

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