After being moved around to several locations in the past few years, the Office of the Electoral Commissioner (OEC) have finally found the perfect home; able to house all of its team as it focuses on final preparations for Samoa’s upcoming 2021 General Elections.
“It’s good to finally have the whole staff under one roof after a couple of years,” says Electoral Commissioner Faimalomatumua Mathew Lemisio.
“We should have our whole staff based here at Tuana’imato by the week commencing 29th March, and our offices at the NPF Plaza and the DBS will be closed after the 26th of March”.
“This makes it easier for coordination and management, and there is also more than enough secured space to operate from, pre and post election”, said Faimalomatumua.
The OEC Team have been working through weekends to ensure a smooth transition to their new location.. “Relocation is always a challenge. Moving desks, computers, files and setting up the networks is a tedious process. But we have anticipated this and we’re taking all and any challenge head on”.
Asked how the team is progressing with only 16 days to go as the countdown on the OEC website reminds us, Faimalo says they are progressing well, noting that there are several crucial areas that OEC will continue to focus on, between now and the 9th of April 2021.
“There is the ongoing public awareness, and final trainings for all polling officials, as well as finalising of all ballot stations around the country,” says the man leading the team behind the much anticipated 2021 General Elections.
“There are logistical plans for dispatching of polling officials during pre-polling and on General Election Day, and similarly for the transport and receiving of all ballot boxes after the elections, and then of course, there’s the final count and returning of writ,” adds Faimalomatumua.
The lead-up to the 2021 General Elections has been like no other Samoa has seen before, with the active involvement of the OEC in the past 4 years to raise awareness and roll out community programs across Samoa.
Prior to registrations closing, the public were inundated with advertisements and notices, encouraging citizens to make their voice count, and register as voters. The OEC developed and published catchy messages through short clips seen on television and social media with the slogan, “My Vote is My Voice” – “O Lau Palota o Lau Aia Tatau”.
This week, we are seeing notices for trainings being rolled out for scrutineers, who are nominated by each candidate and get to sit inside the polling rooms for transparency on election day.
There is also a publication of guidelines for scrutineers available, entitled, “Tusi Taiala – mo tagata e vaavaaia faiga palota”.
Ballot boxes which have been built by a small team of local carpenters, are now all lined up, ready to go!
Asked for any last messages to candidates?
Faimalomatumua says, “All the best… and please do not engage in undertakings that will ruin your chances and undermine the credibility of our elections”, advises Samoa’s Electoral Commissioner.
And any key messages for voters?