13 Feb 2020

Legal action last resort for voter fraud in Samoa - Commissioner

5:30 pm on 13 February 2020

The Samoa Electoral Commissioner is determined to ensure all eligible voters get to vote at next year's general elections without any coercion by candidates and their committees.

Electoral office in Mulinuu

Electoral office in Mulinuu Photo: RNZI/Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia

Commissioner Faimalomatumua Mathew Lemisio said he was not backing down from taking offenders to court.

"These are our elections, Samoa's elections. We all have a role to play in ensuring that the integrity of the process that we use to elect our leaders is held at a high regard," he told media this week.

He said his office worked closely with government village representatives and other "key stakeholders" like churches and village councils to ensure everything was above board.

"We have a very critical partnership with them as we heavily rely on them to verify and confirm residency status of voters who seek registration on different electoral rolls," he said.

Acting Electoral Commissioner Faimalomatumua Mathew Lemisio

Acting Electoral Commissioner Faimalomatumua Mathew Lemisio Photo: SUPPLIED / Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia

He said his office would only take legal action as a last resort.

"We always take the consultative approach in addressing them. And we are aware of the fact that we will continue to have issues with this partnership going forward, but we'll keep strengthening it through awareness programmes," he said.

Despite the awareness programmes through media and on site village consultations, there are still people who are tempted to break the law.

A by-election at the Fa'asaleleaga No 2 electoral constituency last year saw six cases brought against voters and village representatives involving making false declarations.

According to Faimalomatumua, three have already been successfully prosecuted in court and others are pending.