Start preparing now for election nominations, Commissioner urges

Electoral Commissioner Faimalomatumua Matthew Lemisio is urging those who intend to file nomination for the election to visit his office before the official nomination period opens next month. 

With just two weeks set aside to process nominations between October 12 and 23, Faimalo said now is the time to come in and ask questions, collect the required forms and have a lawyer go over them.

In order for the Electoral Commissioner to accept a nomination, the intending candidate’s paperwork must be in order.

The forms they fill out prove they meet legal requirements outlined in the Electoral Act: that they are a citizen and registered voter, hold a registered matai title, have resided in Samoa for three years, rendered monotaga in their village for three years and has no criminal convictions from the last eight years.

All the evidence they provide has to be signed off by a private lawyer, and a person’s residency and monotaga must be supported by a statutory declaration made by a Sui o le Nuu or Sui Tamaitai o le Nuu.

“They can come and collect it, take it to their lawyers, take a look at it,” Faimalo said.

“We only have a two week window where they can submit their [forms].

“The last thing they want is to rush and they might miss something and it might end up in us rejecting their nomination.”

He said he is happy to open his office to any intending candidate who wants to understand the process in more detail before taking the forms away and preparing to take the final step and stand in the election. 

Intending candidates can also get forms from the Salelologa office in Savaii.

During the two week nomination period, the O.E.C. will spend the first week in Savaii to register nominations from there, and the second week in Upolu. 

People can register their nomination in either location regardless of where they are running from, Faimalo added. 

“If they have questions they can ask us to ensure everyone is on the same boat before we proceed with the nominations.”

When the nomination period closes on October 23, the Electoral Commissioner can start to receive applications for a Judicial Review into disqualified nominations by people who disagree they should have been disqualified.

This process is open for a week until October 30, and then the courts have one month to process any or all Judicial Reviews and order the Electoral Commission to make changes if required.

Is it not yet known whether the amendments on the Electoral Act 2019 born out of a hearing into whether the Act is discriminatory will affect this Judicial Review process. 

In court earlier this month, Faimalo said he believes the only reason he, as the Electoral Commissioner, can reject a nomination is if one of the requirements is missing, either in its paper form or of the intending candidate. 

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