Manono resident praises electoral improvements

A Manono Island resident has commended the Office of Electoral Commission, saying he has seen improvement in the conduct of elections over the last decade.

Sione Lofi, 54, said that he is excited to participate in this year’s general election though the pathway for the country’s voters over the years wasn’t easy.

“The five-years has already gone and yet this is one of the events where everyone has been waiting for like myself and my family go to my constituency,” he said in an interview with the Samoa Observer.

“Since COVID-19 pandemic strikes it up until now where some countries in the world are suffering from it, even the Pacific Islands but we are very thankful for Samoa.”

Mr Lofi said he has seen the changes in Samoa’s electoral activities over the years, especially in the last five years, which culminated with the pre-polling early in the week and the election on Friday.

This is one of the toughest election years I’ve ever known,” he added. “In the past election years, there’s no competition at all for candidates and parties but as of now new parties have formed, it shows the knowledge of Samoa and its people has increased, new ideas and fresh thinking.”

The pre-polling arrangement put in place this year that specifically targeted essential workers, people aged over 65 years, those living with disability as well as people travelling on election week was also a masterstroke for the O.E.C., added Mr Lofi.

“I remember in the past previous elections, I used to take one of my aunties (who passed away) in a wheel-chair and I tell you many staff needed that, especially when we only have one actual day to come in to have our vote but this year pre-polling is very helpful and easier for our elderly’s parents and caregivers.

“There are some other districts where people aged over 65 and older are still standing in the line but our culture (faaaloalo) makes things much easier for them as well.”

Mr Lofi first voted in 2011 and in the recent 2021 polls which concluded on Friday. 

“Within our districts from Monday till yesterday (Thursday) which is the last day for pre-polling the situation is quiet, we see people around with their happy faces, sharing jokes and even some bought cocoa tea (koko samoa) but mostly the authority within our village in making sure our voters are well safe and the officials who have done the work are well looked after.

“It is our culture and as a Samoan citizen despite many obstacles that our candidates have with each other, but at the end of the day we are all Samoan and whoever candidate wins, we support throughout the journey.”

And with the country on the precipice of having a new government, Mr Lofi said the new administration should get straight to work after the polling.

“An improvement is needed, every year lots of people do complain about our health situation, how the Ministry works but hopefully for the next five-years ahead something much better would be done for patients and our whole community.”

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