Final reminders for American Samoa’s 2016 voters

fili@samoanews.com

Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga is reminding all public and private employers of local election laws, which allow employees, who are registered voters, to go to the polls on Nov. 8 to cast their ballots, during two-consecutive hours.

And with Election Day now only five-days away, the Election Office reminds voters and candidates of current election laws, which prohibit the giving of free food on that day.

EMPLOYEES VOTING

In an Oct. 31 general memorandum to ASG entities regarding time-off for employees entitled to vote, the governor pointed to local law, in which a qualified elector for the Nov. 8 general election is entitled to be absent from his or her place of employment for two consecutive hours for the purpose of casting their vote.

Additionally, the elector shall not, because of being absent from their place of employment, be liable to any penalty, nor shall any deduction be made on account of the absence from his or her usual salary or wage; provided that the foregoing shall not be applicable to any employee whose hours of employment are such that he or she has a period of two consecutive hours — excluding any lunch or rest periods — between the time of the opening and closing of the polls when he or she is not working for his or her employer.

“Supervisory personnel are responsible to see that absences are staggered in a manner to ensure no interruption of government services,” the governor wrote.

Lolo also reminded the public regarding the same provisions of local law (ASCA Section 6.0504), are applicable to all employees who are qualified electors regardless of their place of employment.

Local qualified registered electors go to the polls, which are open for 12 hours beginning at 6a.m., to vote for the gubernatorial, congressional and the local House of Representative races. There are 44 polling stations territory-wide.

ELECTION REMINDERS

Election officials yesterday issued a reminder to everyone that there is “absolutely no free food distribution”, beginning at 12:01a.m. — on the day the polls are open and end with the closing of polls at 6p.m.

During the 2014 general election, a new law — which bans the giving of free food, including the famous Samoan barbeque plates — went into effect. Prior to the opening of polling stations in 2014, village mayors were seen reminding people about the new law, to ensure those tents outside of the polling stations were not giving out free food.

During a cabinet meeting in August this year, Attorney General Talauega Eleasalo Ale reminded directors of this law. Also on Election Day, around the polling station areas, he said there are a number of things prohibited under the law.

For example, “You can’t go out there with your stereo and dance with a [campaign] sign of your favorite candidate — that should be a quiet place where the person who wants to vote can go and make his decision to vote,” he said.

The Election Office will be working closely on Election Day with village majors and police to ensure a safe 2016 general election.

Another remainder yesterday from election officials is the Swains island open meeting is scheduled for 1p.m. tomorrow (Saturday) at the Election Office to select the Swains delegate to the local House.

And the final reminder from election officials as well as candidates running for public office is for registered voters to “get out and vote on Election Day.”

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