Election temps get strong reminder to stay neutral
The Election Office has completed training for local residents who have been temporarily hired to work at the polling stations and the Election Office for the Nov. 6 general election, which occurs one week from today.
As part of that training, Chief Election Officer Soliai Tuipine Fuimaono emphasized to all election officials that they are not to be involved in any political campaigning event or activity.
“I have stressed to all of them that they will be removed as election officials and will not be allowed inside any of the polling stations, if I later find anyone to be actively campaigning for any candidate,” Soliai said in a phone interview.
Soliai said this was also emphasized during a recent meeting of the Election Office with village mayors and village police. Soliai said he will request the Office of Samoan Affairs for another person to assist election officials at the polling stations, if a pulenu’u or village police are found to be involved in campaigning.
“I cannot emphasize enough to everyone who is playing a part in this year’s election, the importance of the Election Office maintaining its independence,” said Soliai. “We must conduct the election in a fair process without any influence of political campaigning that will taint the image of our democratic election process.”
Voters in American Samoa go to the polls next Tuesday to elect a new governor and lieutenant governor, delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives, local House representative, and to vote on the referendum which asks whether the Fono should have the authority to override the governor’s veto.
Soliai reminds all candidates to provide to the Election Office as soon as possible lists of their poll watchers at polling stations territory-wide. He 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.
He says only one poll watcher per candidate is allowed into the polling station at a time and suggests that candidates provide more than one name on their list for each polling station so that when the other person has to leave for an emergency, the substitute can step in.
Soliai humbly asks candidates for the gubernatorial race, delegate and the local House race to work together with the Election Office to ensure a smooth and peaceful election day.
Meanwhile, Soliai reminds all registered voters with expired or lost Voter IDs, to renew their ID by 4 p.m. on November 5 (day before voting day).
All registered voters who have not picked up their Voter ID are reminded to do so right away and not to wait until the last minute. Additionally, overseas absentee voters who have received their absentee ballots are asked to mail the ballot back as soon as possible.
On Election Day please don’t forget to vote, said Soliai, who is hoping for a big turnout in the number of electors casting ballots this year.
At the close of voter registration on Oct. 9, there were 17,774 names on the voter roll for the general election.