Student Calls for Law Change to Allow Youth Turning 21 on Election Year to Vote

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A 16 year old student from Avele College, is calling on the Commission of Inquiry to consider an amendment to Samoa’s Electoral Act that would allow him and others born in 2005 to vote in the 2026 general elections.

In an interview with Samoa Global News, Jay Sione from the village of Sinamoga says if general elections are called on or before April 2026, then he would miss out by mere months, because he turns 21 in September of that year.

“God willing, that means I will not be able to vote until 2031, when I’m almost 26 years old.”

“A pule alofa Le Alii e aulia, faatoa mafai ona ou palota i le 2031, ae ua toeitiiti 26 lena o ou tausaga.”

Jay Sione said he was aware that a Commission of Inquiry had been appointed to lead a national review of the election process, and wanted to his voice could be heard, not only for himself but also for other young people in Samoa.

He said it would be good if Samoa’s election laws allowed for all youth turning 21 in an election year, to vote.

“It would be great if the Commission could consider a change like that, to allow all of us turning 21 in 2026, to vote. Because waiting for 2031 is so far away, especially since we want to vote now,” he says with a smile.

Jay Sione, student of Avele College Photo: Julius Netzler/SGN.

The Chairman of the Commission of Inquiry, Tuuu Luafatasaga Dr Ieti Taulealo, told Samoa Global News that one of the areas of focus is the youth vote, and the Commission welcomed the opinions of youth in their review.

“The issue of allowing youth who turn 21 on election year to vote, is one of the issues raised, and will be further examined by the Commission,” said Tuuu.

Aotoa Moa, 25 of Leauvaa.

A young woman, Aoto’a Moa, 25, of Leauvaa said she missed out on voting in the 2021 general election because her name was not on the electoral roll.

Ms Moa said that when she went in to vote that day, her name could not be found on the electoral roll.

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“I did register for my constituency of Sagaga 3, and was really sad when I couldn’t vote.”

She said she did not know where the mishap had been, but there was nothing anyone could do about it on voting day.

“So I will vote for the first time in 2026, and I’ll be 30 by then!” she says.

Aoto’a Moa says she has observed that there is a lot of emphasis placed on the elderly when it comes to general elections, however, her view is that elections are for everyone.

“I see that most candidate committees are always approaching the older people to ask for their vote, and they assume that the youth will just follow what their parents’ decision is,” she says.

Ms Moa says she also finds it intriguing that when a newly elected MP brings their traditional ‘oo’ or gifts of gratitude to the constituency, she notices that the food and money received is divided amongst the matai of village councils and women’s commitees, with little or no regard for the youth.

“O nisi o afioaga ua avatu le oo a le faipule, ua tufa na’o matai ma faletua ma tausi, ae faagalogalo le 21 ma tupulaga talavou”.

“My advice is to make the election process fair and equitable for all voters.”

“O lau fautuaga ia faata’ua tutusa uma avanoa mo soo se tagata palota”.