First time voters unfazed by by-election pressure

The date 28 August 2020 has been etched in the memory of Vaitogi brothers Oliva and Europa.

It was their first time to vote last Friday in the Gagaifomauga No. 3 by-election in Savai’i, which saw former constituency M.P. La’aulialemalietoa Leuatea Polataivao retain his seat in a 721-208 victory over old foe Fa’aulusau Simi Laulua.

Maritime student Europa, 24, has strong opinions about universal suffrage and the need for everyone to vote as a human right.

"In a democratic country, it is important for us to vote,” he said in an interview.

"We choose our leaders by voting and those people lead us and return the favor by serving us." 

He believes that everyone should vote for someone to represent them and be their voice.

"Once you are eligible to vote, you should go ahead and vote for who you think is right for the job. 

"As citizens of this country, we should all vote because if we don’t vote, then why should we complain? Especially us, the youth of Samoa, we need to participate in the decision making of our country by voting for the better."

There was no pressure to vote, added Europa, who emphasised that he voted for someone he believed in.

"I did not vote for the person I voted for because I was forced to. I voted for who I believed in and someone who has done so much for this village and constituency. 

"And that's how it should be. Personally, I believe that everyone should vote because everyone has an opinion.”

His older brother, Oliva Vaitogi, expressed the same sentiments and revealed that he was not nervous despite being a first-time voter. 

"To be honest with you, there was no pressure at all," he told the Samoa Observer. 

"I was also not nervous about voting for the first time. I actually enjoyed it, because this is the first time I got to vote. 

"Through elections, citizens have the ability to decide on who represents them in government.

“It is a basic process that keeps our system of Government working and by voting, you are making our voice heard and registering your opinion on how you think the Government should operate.”

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