Electoral Commissioner clarifies vote numbers
The Electoral Commissioner, Faimalomatumua Mathew Lemisio, has clarified that the number of people who did not vote during the recent Fa’asaleleaga No. 2 by-election is not more than a thousand.
In response to an email from the Samoa Observer, Faimalo said the figure is less than 500. From 1,013 people who did not vote, some 325 of them have migrated overseas.
Six did not vote because they were serving time in prison and an additional 220 are deceased.
This leaves 462 people from Fa’asaleleaga No. 2 who will be fined for not voting.
“For your information, under the old law, our Office was given limited statutory powers to remove people’s names from the rolls especially those who have deceased,” said the Electoral Commissioner.
The two grounds under the old law that allowed deceased person’s name being removed is if the death is registered with Births, Death and Marriages Division and secondly if an immediate family member signed off to confirm the death of the person.
Faimalo said the is that most people don’t register the deaths of their loved ones and secondly is when deceased do not have immediate family in Samoa to sign off and have their names removed from the roll.
“The new law now opens that statutory power, allowing us to base our decision to remove on lists from funeral parlours, church ministers, funeral public notices etc.
“So that work is now ongoing not only for the Fa’asaleleaga Nu. 2 Roll but the whole electoral Roll of Samoa.
“That has helped us a lot in removing deceased’ names from the Rolls.”
Faimalo added that only 43 people out of the 462 have paid their penalty of $100 tala for not voting following public notices.
More are expected to come in and pay their penalty.
Failure to do so will mean a person will be taken to Court and can be convicted for non-voting.
The Electoral Commissioner was asked for a comment following the parliament discussion into the 2019/2020 where the issue concerning non-voters for the constituency was raised.
Speaking in Parliament, M.P. for Fa’asaleleaga No. 2, Namulauulu Sami Leota, raised concerns over members speaking about the number of people from his constituency who did not vote.
Namulauulu disputed the figure.
“In actual fact the one thousand (of non-voters) is not one thousand,” he said.
“About four hundred of them have died and another two hundred to three hundred have moved overseas.
“I was hoping the Minister of Electoral Office would touch on this as it does not sound good for my constituency. The number also does not include those that have decided to vote in Apia where they reside and that decision is strongly supported.”
Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi also spoke about the matter.
In making reference to public notices and awareness from the Electoral Office on those that did not vote, Tuilaepa said the electoral process would show those who do not vote deliberately.
He said the issue is not new and it happens in every constituency including his own. He said the matter needs to be addressed by the Village Council meetings to ensure everyone abides by the law and exercise their right to vote.