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Ballots for absentee voters out on last night’s flight

fili@samoanews.com

Gubernatorial ballots went out last night on the Hawaiian Airlines flight for American Samoans who qualify to vote overseas or off-island and have requested absentee ballots.

These ballots can be tracked via the Election Office website — as to their current locale or status.

Ballots for the offices of governor and lieutenant governor were printed around 12 noon yesterday after Chief Election Officer Soliai Tuipine Fuimaono certified all candidates in the gubernatorial race. (See complete list of certified candidates in the Gubernatorial race, in a public notice printed in today’s Samoa News).

Soliai in a public notice — released to the local media just before 9 a.m. yesterday announced the certification of the candidates. Certification followed a decision late Wednesday afternoon by the Appellate Division of the High Court, dismissing a petition by the gubernatorial team of Save Liuato Tuitele and Sandra King Young, who appealed a decision by the chief election officer denying their challenge of the eligibility of four other candidates in the gubernatorial race.

The Chief Election Officer also revealed some good news — for local absentee voters, who have already left the territory but have cast their ballots for the other races — but not the gubernatorial race. 

He said if these individuals end up returning to the territory prior to Nov. 6 for some reason or another, these persons can vote for the “gubernatorial race only,” but cannot vote again for the other races or the referendum.

Soliai issued a cautionary note — “The Election Office has the records and information of all those who cast absentee ballots,” as local absentee ballots are cast at the Election Office.

An hour later, the Election Office started accepting absentee voting for the gubernatorial race — especially for those absentee eligible voters who left on last night’s Hawaiian Airlines flight.

To ensure that all eligible local absentee voters had a chance to cast a ballot, the Election Office stayed open unit 9 p.m. Local absentee voters are qualified electors, who reside in the territory, but will be absent from the territory on Election Day.

Soliai told Samoa News that Thursday’s Hawaiian flight also took out the first batch of absentee ballots for American Samoans who requested absentee ballots and qualify to vote overseas or off island.

Local law states that overseas absentee voters are those in the military, American Samoa students attending school of higher education and ASG officials working in the U.S.

“The law is very clear that only these individuals are eligible to vote overseas or off-island, as absentee,” said Soliai, who reminds these individuals that they must be registered voters and request an overseas ballot before an absentee ballot is sent out.

It was not immediately clear as to the total number of overseas absentee ballots that went out last night.

In the public notice, Soliai also said candidates had until 12 noon yesterday to view sample ballots before printing, but no correction to names of the candidates was allowed because the deadline had expired.

Meanwhile, the CEO again stressed to all qualified voters who have yet to register to vote or re-register to vote, to please do so as soon as possible.

Voter registration ends at 4 p.m. Oct. 9 and Soliai says it’s always best to do voter registration early and not last minute.

“Like in past elections, the last day of voter registration is always very busy. So please visit the Election Office as soon as you can,” he added and “don’t forget to vote on Election Day.”

The Election Office is also open on Saturday until 12 noon to help accommodate voters.

For this year’s general election, the Election Office website provides information on this year’s election, which includes a list of those eligible to vote — both local and off island absentees. The website also provides new email addresses for off-island absentee voters to contact the Election Office.



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