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Voters head to the polls to elect territory's leaders

Chief Election Officer calls for peace and harmony
fili@samoanews.com

Chief Election Officer Soliai Tuipine Fuimaono has appealed to all residents of American Samoa for a peaceful and harmonious election day, as voters head today to the 45 polling stations territory-wide to cast ballots in the special election, which will decide the new governor and lieutenant governor.

“A successful election process in any democratic society like ours is when voters go to the polls as well as maintaining calm, peace and harmony through election day,” Soliai said yesterday in a brief phone interview. “I join our government and traditional leaders calling on all  residents to keep peace in our small island community today, and after the election.”

(See story of DPS security assignments for run off election.)

Polls will be open from 6 a.m to 6p.m and Soliai is still hopeful for a big turn out today at the polling stations. He is also “very hopeful” that the weather will be cooperative so that many more voters will cast ballots, than the just over 13,000 ballots counted in the Nov. 6 general election for the gubernatorial race.

The National Weather Service in Tafuna yesterday forecasted today’s weather to be mostly cloudy with isolated showers and east winds of 15-20 mph. This is the same forecast for tonight heading into tomorrow morning.

And if by this morning the electors have either misplaced or lost his/her voter ID, Soliai said, “you can still vote by providing required documents at your designated polling station and the name on these documents MUST match the name on the voter roll.”

The documents are:  a valid U.S. passport along with social security card; or the green birth certificate issued by the ASG Office of Vital Statistics, a government issued picture ID (such as the local driver’s license) and social security card. Soliai said names on all these documents must match the name on the voter roll.

Late yesterday morning, election officials with ballot boxes left for the Manu’a island group and two residents on Ta’u island said the ASG aircraft Segaula, arrived before 12noon.

Polling stations in Manu’a are expected to have their results of today’s run off race available before 1p.m., according to the pair, who pointed out that this was the same case during the Nov. 6 general election.

One resident says that there are 42 registered voters for Faleasao village, and about 80 voters each for Ta’u and Fitiuta villages. “It will be a quick election process for Ta’u island’s three main polling stations,” according to the resident, who spoke only with Samoa News if she was not identified by name in this story.

As for the local and off-island absentee ballots, Soliai said the absentee ballot container will be opened at 3 p.m. today and the count will proceed immediately thereafter. He has invited representatives from the two camps to observe the counting process.

Poll watchers as well as news reporters will — again — sign a form promising not to publicly release the results until polls close.

TWO-HOURS OFF TO VOTE

In a memorandum issued yesterday, Gov. Togiola Tulafono says all territorial government employees who are qualified voters, will be allowed two consecutive hours, time off from work — excluding any lunch or rest periods - to cast ballots during the time the polls are open.

He said supervisory personnel are responsible to see that absences are staggered in a manner permitting the government to remain fully functioning.

Local law (ASCA 6.0504- Employees entitled to leave on election day for voting) states in part that electors on the day of election are entitled to be absent from any service or employment for a period of two consecutive hours, excluding any lunch or rest period between the time of opening and closing of the polls, to cast ballots.



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