Mixed views during inquiry, allowing Samoans overseas to vote in local elections


Allowing Samoans overseas to vote in the local general elections garnered mixed views from members of the public at Moata’a yesterday during the Electoral Commission of Inquiry (COI) consultation for the Vaimauga No.2 constituency.

On the second day of the public consultations, this was one of the issues outlined in the terms of reference for the Commission, including women in politics; electoral/political constituencies; responsibilities and obligations of the Office of the Electoral Commission; eligibility for election candidates; registration of political parties and offenses and legal issues.

Some of the public called for a plebiscite citing this is nothing new to the Samoans and allows the public to vote on whether to allow Samoans overseas to cast a ballot in the local elections.

The former Electoral Commissioner Papalii Malietau Malietoa pointed out that while there are many Samoans living abroad, not all of them are Samoan citizens. He then suggested piloting this initiative by using Samoan students attending school in Fiji through the Samoan Consular Chancery and see whether this concept will work.

Others suggested that if Samoans overseas are eager to vote they should come back to the island to cast their ballot noting that Samoan overseas will dominate the electoral roles as there are more of them living overseas compared to the local population.

Yet other Speakers point out that Samoans overseas are sending remittances into Samoa to assist their families and in turn boost the economy and therefore they are entitled to this privilege.

Tofaeono Dr. Iupati Fuatai said in Auckland New Zealand there are over 100,000 Samoans and more in Australia and America the “elections will be dominated by Samoan’s diaspora and that is something we don’t want to happen.”

The consultations continue today in Vaimuaga #3 and the Commission is expected to submit a report to Parliament in November outlining their recommendations on the Electoral Act 2020.