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Overseas absentee ballots scheduled to go out tonight

Most won’t make it back in time for the run-off election
fili@samoanews.com

While over 200 absentee ballots for American Samoa’s overseas voters have been delivered to the U.S. Post Office in Fagatogo for tonight’s Hawaiian Airlines flight, only a small percentage of overseas ballots are expected to make it back in time to be counted in next Tuesday’s special election for the governor’s race.

Ballots for the run off between gubernatorial teams of Lolo Matalasi Moliga/Lemanu Peleti Sialega Mauga and Lt. Gov. Faoa Aitofele Sunia/Taufete’e John Faumuina were printed once the deadline to file challenges ended at the close of business Tuesday this week and the Nov. 6 general election results were certified.

Asked when the overseas absentee ballots were to be sent out, Soliai told Samoa News the ballots were with the Post Office as of yesterday afternoon for the outbound flight tonight. He said all of the overseas voters who requested ballots during the general election are on the list for the special election ballots.

Total overseas ballots requested for the general election stood at 245, he added.

As in past run-offs for the gubernatorial race, Soliai said, only a small percentage of the mailed ballots will be returned in time to be counted next Tuesday. He said the only flight returning to the territory from the U.S. prior to the special election is next Monday night.

It’s usually American Samoans in the military and students in colleges based in Hawai’i whose ballots will be returned in time to be counted. Other absentee voters that will be counted are ASG employees working at the Governor’s Office in Honolulu, as their ballots are usually hand-carried on the flight to ensure delivery to the Election Office.

During the 2008 special election for the gubernatorial race, only 26 off-island ballots were received and counted and all of them were from Hawai’i based military personnel and students as well as employees of the Governor’s Office in Honolulu.  A total of 269 off-island absentee ballots were counted in that year’s general election.

LOCAL ABSENTEE

Soliai also said that local absentee voting for those individuals who will be temporarily absent from the territory on Nov. 20, began yesterday and will continue until Nov.19 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. This voting process is conducted at the Election Office, which is also open half day this Saturday to accommodate the local absentee voting and any other election related issues.

Electors qualified to vote absentee for this category are those traveling for medical reasons, military related assignments; employment related training, conference or assignments, or for vacation. These electors must present proof of their temporary absence, such as airline tickets, military orders, travel authorization or medical referral.

POLL WATCHERS

Soliai reminds the two gubernatorial teams to provide to the Election Office as soon as possible lists of their poll watchers at the 45 polling stations territory-wide. These will be the same polling stations used during the general election.

Same rules apply as in the general election, Soliai says:

No poll watcher will be allowed to sit inside the polling station unless that person’s name is on the list provided by each candidate; and,

Only one poll watcher per candidate is allowed into the polling station at a time.

 He suggested that candidates provide more than one name on their list for each polling station so that when one person has to leave for an emergency, the other substitute can step in.

Samoa News understands there were some problems at several polling stations during the general election when names of some poll watchers were not on the list and clearance had to made through the Election Office.



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