The Office of the Electoral Commissioner (OEC) will restart the whole pre-polling process following complaints from voters claiming they were being inappropriately approached by candidate committees.
As part of recent reforms to Samoa’s Electoral Act, certain voters are allowed to pre-poll and cast their votes before election day.
As confirmed by Faimomatumua Mathew Lemisio; “the elderly, those in essential services including media, those travelling on the week prior to election day and persons with disabilities can all apply to pre-vote”.
In efforts to open up the process, application forms were distributed for those eligible to apply, however the OEC last week announced complaints had reached the OEC that candidate committees were using the completion of application forms, to induce voters.
“The OEC sees this as a real threat to the integrity of pre-polling process and has decided to suspend accepting anymore pre-polling forms,” the notice says.
Furthermore, the Electoral Commissioner says OEC will restart the whole process, including previous applications received.
“We will go to those voters who have already lodged their forms an restart the process”, he said in response to questions from Samoa Global News.
The Electoral Commissioner says it is important to ensure the integrity of elections is not compromised, and voters not made to feel threatened or enticed.
The OEC will now create a different official pre-polling form, which they will distribute to the eligible voters starting Monday, 22nd February 2021.
A schedule of the pre-polling form distribution will be posted later this week for the information of those eligible to cast early votes.
Pre-polling was implemented during Laaulialemalietoa’s by-election for Gagaifomauga No.3, where a total of 16 registered voters took advantage of the pre-polling option.
When voter registrations closed, Faimalomatumua confirmed the final roll for Samoa’s April 9th general elections to be 128,848.
“That is the official number following the removal of 3673 which was the total number of deceased voters”.