Govt. considers free ride for Savai'i voters
The Government is considering the possibility of giving residents of Savai’i free tickets to travel to the island in the 2021 General Election so they can cast their vote from their constituencies.
Minister of Justice and Courts Administration, Fa’aolesa Katopau Ainuu confirmed this in Parliament this week.
Fa’aolesa said the Office of the Electoral Commissioner is in discussion with the Ministry of Finance to see if its practical for the office to pay for people’s ferry ticket on election day.
He added that details on this negotiation will be revealed in the near future once its finalised.
Under the new changes of the Electoral Act, people are now required to cast their votes from the respective constituency that they register in.
Unlike previous general elections, there will be no more special voting booths for people residing in Upolu and register in Savai’i to cast their votes.
Similarly for those residing in Savai’i and registered in Upolu, they would have to physically cast their vote in Upolu.
However, the Minister of Works, Transport and Infrastructure, Papali’i Niko Lee Hang said there is no way the shipping company would be giving free rides for everyone during election day.
Papali’i claims that the Samoa Shipping Corporation would go into deficit if it agrees to the free ticket arrangement.
He said the only discussion that is yet to happen with the Electoral Office is in relation to expenditure that the staff will incur while they are in Savai’i to carry out polling.
But the Member of Parliament for Fa’asaleleaga no2, Namulauulu Sami Leota interjected, saying the Minister of Justice made it clear O.E.C. will pay for the ferry fare arrangements instead of shipping.
The Minister of Justice stood by his statement, saying that is the discussion is for the Electoral Office to pay for the ferry rides for Savai’i residents.