Letter to the Editor: Opposition Leader on Diaspora Voting Online in General Elections

This is even more important today when Samoans overseas outnumber the voters in Samoa by an estimated 300%. 

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LETTER TO THE EDITOR FROM OPPOSITION PARTY LEADER HON TUILAEPA SAILELE MALIELEGAOI.

SAMOA’S DIASPORA TO VOTE ONLINE?

When I took an official visit of Israel five years ago, I asked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at our meeting whether Israel allows its diaspora to vote in their General Elections.

“Yes, we do” he said. “But they must come and vote in Israel for security reasons.”

Investigations into the recent United States presidential elections revealed that Russia used technology to influence the outcome of the US presidential elections.

A few years ago, both the Reserve Bank of the United States and England were robbed of millions of dollars despite their highest level of security.

And on Tuesday this week, media outlets shared fake, AI-generated, photos of former US President Trump hugged by a group of black voters to encourage African Americans to vote for him.

Our Parliament which is dominated by the Fa’atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (FAST) party, has now passed into law the online registration of our own diaspora who may wish to vote in our future General Elections.

This was a promise made by FAST Party members during their overseas fundraising campaign for the 2021 General Elections.

Since 1962, our leaders then, under Prime Minister Fiame Mata’afa Faumuina Mulinu’u II’s wise leadership, had allowed our citizens who emigrated overseas to vote in our general elections but, like Israel, they had to come and vote in Samoa.

This is even more important today when Samoans overseas outnumber the voters in Samoa by an estimated 300%.

And Parliamentarians were informed there are more changes to come.

Online registrations were already in place only for citizens such as those working in our diplomatic offices overseas and for those who are participating in the short-term Workers Schemes in New Zealand and Australia.

If the new system allows only registration with voters still required to travel to Samoa to vote or personally attend to biometric requirements, then there is no need for this drastic change as we have been doing that since 1962.

Unless of course there is a sinister intention that we all do not know about.

Allowing our Diaspora to vote online in our General Elections may result in our future Parliaments comprised completely of Samoans residing in New Zealand and Australia, or even the United States, with parliament meetings conducted for convenience in a ski field in Queenstown or a resort in the Gold Coast, or even at the Hyatt Hotel in Waikiki.

Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa has already promised that Cabinet will again reconsider the different concerns expressed by members of Parliament.

We can only pray that their deliberations are guided by the wisdom of our forefathers to protect the sovereignty and heritage of our beloved Samoa.

Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi

Leader of HRPP