Housebound, disabled voters begin casting their absentee ballots
Voting for the second category of local absentee voters got underway on Wednesday, the same day the Election Office released the list of more than 40 designated polling stations for the Nov. 6 general election.
This category of absentee voters, in accordance with local election law, are electors who are present on island but are unable to go to the polling stations to cast their ballot due to disability, illness, or being confined at home.
Chief Election Officer Soliai T. Fuimaono says casting ballots for this category of local absentee voters began Wednesday with over 100 requests for ballots already received by the Election Office.
Local law calls for these eligible voters to make the request to the Election Office, from 30-days prior to the general election up to the day before the election. No requests are accepted and no ballots are cast for this category on election day.
Assisted by village mayors, Soliai said election officials started with the Western and Eastern districts, but due to the large number of requests for absentee ballots, election officials continued yesterday and probably today as well for those districts.
Thereafter comes the Central district to be visited and only election officials are allowed to be present with the elector at the time of casting the ballot.
“The village mayors, through the Office of Samoan Affairs, have been assisting us with this local absentee ballot category all these years and I am forever thankful to them,” said Soliai, adding that village mayors also help to identify the homes of the local absentee voter.
Soliai said there have been no requests from Aunu’u island and voting for this local category for the Manu’a Island group will be on Nov. 5 when a chartered plane will take election officials, ballots and ballot boxes that morning.
The election officials will then remain in Manu’a for the Nov. 6 election and return later in the day when polling stations there closed. Manu’a is always the first to close their polling stations, when all voters on the roll have cast their ballots.
As for polling stations, Soliai released Wednesday the list of 45 designated polling stations territory-wide and the majority of them are church halls, which are very secure and have been used in past general elections.
Designation of polling stations comes more than a week after the Election Office conducted site inspections to ensure there are no problems at these locations and they are accessible to handicap voters.
For voters registered in Manu’a but residing on Tutuila, there are two polling stations for them to cast ballots. (See yesterday’s Samoa News edition under Election Office advertising for the complete list of polling stations.)
Soliai said there are many voter ID cards still at the Election Office that need to be picked up and urged these individuals to do so as soon as possible. He reminds them that a voter ID is needed to vote on election day.
He also reminds overseas absentee voters that the close of business next Monday, Oct. 22 is the last day to request an absentee ballot. Request forms are available on the Election Office website: www.americansamoaelectionoffice.org