COI does not recommend Samoan diaspora to vote from overseas

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The Electoral Commission of Inquiry confirms that most views do not support overseas-based Samoans voting from abroad. Some preferred the existing system whereby they register and vote in Samoa in person.

The main concern being articulated was that the population of overseas Samoans outnumbers the local population. It means that the results of the elections would be dictated from overseas not only at the voter level but the spread of MPs and the Government makeup.

According to the report statistics from the New Zealand Census of Population and Housing in 2018, 182,000 Samoans, including 55,512, were born in Samoa. And the Australian Census statistics in 2016 showed 75,777 Samoans, including 24,017 Samoan-born. 

The total number of Samoa-born residing in Australia and New Zealand between 2016-2018 was nearly 80,000. 

The Commission Inquiry held a meeting with a New Zealand Electoral Commission consultant. It confirmed that ways had been put in place for overseas-based New Zealander voters to vote directly from their countries of residence and to visit home once between general elections.

This was an attempt to encourage overseas-based voters to continue contact with the homeland. A similar system is already in place for overseas-based Samoans. However, they must register to vote and cast their votes in Samoa in person.

The Commission recommends continuing the current system, and the majority of views expressed were not to undertake headlong decisions but deliberate carefully with vision and prudence as this was an extremely delicate matter. 

Establish a Special Committee, chaired by the Commissioner of OEC and other members including Attorney General, CEO of Finance, CEO of Foreign Affairs & Trade, and CEO of SBS to investigate all the relevant issues involved, generally including, but not restricted to: 

  • –  Overview of overseas-based Samoan voters (e.g. personal, country, numbers)
  • –  Election and electoral issues
  • –  Financial costs
  • –  Legal implications.
  • –  Impacts on dual citizens and families.