Election Office tells qualified overseas voters: Use website
Chief Election Officer Soliai Tuipine Fuimaono has appealed to American Samoa’s qualified overseas voters to utilize the Election Office’s website to expedite the process of requesting an absentee ballot, and the forms are available online.
“Like the rest of the nation, our Election Office wants to assist our overseas voters especially our sons and daughters in the U.S. Armed Forces as well as college students, by making forms available online for easy access,” said Soliai during an interview at his office in Tafuna.
The Election Office has received a lot of e-mail requests from overseas voters seeking an absentee ballot but the information is not sufficient “in order for us to verify our records,” said Soliai. “We have a verification process when these requests come through, which includes the person’s signature as well as other pertinent details.”
A lot of these e-mail requests are “your normal e-mail messages” and the Election Office then informs the sender of the message to go on the Election Office website, where the forms are provided to request an absentee ballot if the person is already a registered voter, said Soliai.
“Just a simple e-mail message is not going to work,” added Meleisea V. Filiga, the deputy election officer. “So we send reminders to these individuals to go on line to get the right form to request and to receive an absentee ballot.”
The website [www.americansamoaelectionoffice.org] provides the form to request an absentee ballot and this is form E0-08 and the second form is the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA), which is the form that military voters are been urged to use as much as possible.
All military personnel from American Samoa are further encouraged to check the website, which provides other information for them, such as how to register or re-register to vote. There is a section of the Election Office website dedicated to military personnel.
There are two major concerns of the Election Office regarding overseas absentee voters.
The first is that the close of business on Oct. 9 is the deadline for registration or re-registration for military personnel; and the second concern is that Oct. 22 is the last day to request an absentee ballot.
“Both dates are quickly approaching,” said Soliai.
“We want all our qualified overseas voters to be able to cast ballots in this important election year, and we’ve put all that information online to help them,” he said. Reminders are also provided to overseas absentee voters once the ballot is received.
“Before returning the absentee ballot, the absentee voter must make sure that the larger envelope is signed, dated, and fill in the rest of the information on the envelope,” said Soliai, as he showed Samoa News the large envelope, which contains the letter-sized envelopes for each of the races as well as the referendum inside.
As of yesterday morning, some 87 absentee ballot requests have been received and sent out. It wasn’t immediately clear if any new requests were received by yesterday afternoon to make it on last night’s Hawaiian Airlines flight to Honolulu.
Soliai also said that absentee voters are able to track the status of their absentee ballot through the Election Office website, which now has a new search engine for this activity.
“The search engine is new and another avenue for our voters, he said.
And this is especially important for military personnel, who are not sure of their voting status. “For example, if you’re military and conduct the search and find out, your name is purged from the voter roll, you can re-register online,” explained Meleisea.
Local residents can also check and verify their voter status. So, to test the new search system — I entered my last name, first name, and voter ID Number and there was the reply in red - in capital letters - my voter status: “PURGED - YOU NEED TO RE-REGISTER”. This was the search done around 2:30 p.m yesterday, but my re-registration at the Election Office was done around 8:20 a.m. yesterday. So I’ve decided to wait until next week to conduct another search if my name is still purged from the voter list or should I go back to the Election Office for another chit-chat.
This new online search function comes at a time when today the U.S. and its territories celebrate the National Voter Registration Day — which encourages those who qualify to vote but have not done so, to register to vote and then vote in the Nov. 6th general election.
Voter registration in American Samoa ends at the close of business on Oct. 9 and thereafter Soliai will release the updated list of voter registrations.