ELECTION OFFICE APPOINTEE TELLS HOUSE REPS OF AUTOMATED ELECTION SYSTEM
One down and one to go, Tuaolo Manaia Fruean is cleared from the House of Representatives, in a vote of 16-2. The endorsement came after a hearing before the Government Operations Committee chaired by Rep Faimealelei Anthony Allen.
The hearing lasted for about an hour, where Representatives heard from Tuaolo that the Election Office is looking at automating the electoral process.
Tuaolo’s comments on the automated election system came after questions posed by Representative Pulelei’ite Tufele Li’amatua Jr. on his goals for the Election Office.
The acting chief election officer explained the Automated Election System will make use of technology that is now available and replace outdated manual procedures in elections in order to mitigate the factors that can potentially compromise election integrity, and also reduce the time for calculating and announcing electoral results.
He told Samoa News the automated election system is just like the election system that is used in the mainland. Its purpose “is to deliver state-of-the-art technology that is both efficient, allowing electoral authorities to utilize the benefits of a computerized system and also practical, maintaining the basic principles that the voters and election personnel are accustomed to,” Tuaolo explained.
He added that with this system, if a voter lives in Leone and works at the canneries they can vote at any voting booth, which would be convenient for any voter who works during the day.
Tuaolo noted that he’s looking at having this system up and running before the next general election in 2016. He further stated the system automates the scanning, counting, consolidation and transmission of the votes, in a secure and traceable manner, reducing the chance of human error, tampering or fraud attempts and increases the integrity of the elections.
The appointee pointed out this system is still in the works and no final decision has been made on this proposa. He said the election office is working with Bluesky Communication to see if it is feasible to be used in the territory and they will go from there.
Maoputasi Faipule, Va’amua Henry Sesepasara pointed out that Tuaolo has served in all three branches of the government; the Legislative Branch as a representative and later a senator, the Judicial Branch as an Associate Judge and the Executive Branch when working as Commissioner of Public Safety in the previous administration.
The chairman of the Government Operations Committee at the beginning of the hearing informed House members that in the previous administration, Tuaolo was a cabinet member and even with this new administration, he’s been appointed to the cabinet. “This goes to show how valuable he is, and given his vast knowledge of being a leader he’s again appointed as Commissioner of the Election Office.”
Rep. Tu’umolimoli Saena Moliga pointed out that Tuaolo was chosen from the rest because he’s at his best at any task he’s assigned to and also a trustworthy leader. A majority of the representatives commended Tuaolo for his long years of service to the government.
At the end of the hearing, Speaker the House Savali Talavou Ale told Tuaolo to reconsider bringing in the Automated Election System and stick with the usual voting procedure already in place. “You don’t want a machine to choose our leaders for us,” said the Speaker.
Tuaolo again informed the House members the election system is only at the “talk” level, and that nothing has been determined yet.
When Governor Lolo M. Moliga first appointed Tuaolo, he had told Samoa News, “My heart is for the people and I’m all about serving the community through the government in any position I’m appointed to.”
The Senate has yet to schedule a confirmation hearing for Tuaolo to appear.