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Unregistered voters to be punished

Saturday 28 May 2016 | Published in Regional

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SAMOA – Samoa’s acting chief executive officer for the Office of the Electoral Commission (OEC) has confirmed that 17,000 people did not register during the most recent elections, and his office intends to take a “firm stand” against them’.

Most of those unregistered were young people born between 1990 and 1995 and after meeting with police commissioner Fuiavailili Egon Keil last week, a special police team has been allocated to work closely with the OEC on the matter.

OEC acting CEO, Faimalomatumua Mathew Lemisio, said his office has published four lists of 100 names each week and these people have been given 14 days to come forward and register.

After 14 days, the list is then given to police to process charges – and the penalty is a fine of between $2000 and $4000.

From the 100 names in the first list advertised on television and published in the newspaper, only 31 came forward and registered – the remaining 69 names have been forwarded to police to press charges.

Faimalomatumua said that since the public notices were issued, 400 people came forward vouluntarily and registered.

He said this shows that people can register before their names are made public.

“Why we had to take the harsh measures is because people wanted to get money from candidates before registering – so they waited for a candidate to take them to the registration booth, and that is where bribery occurs,” said Faimalomatumua.

Before, when electoral registration was compulsory, the OEC office did not enforce registration – but “we have to take that step now”, Faimalomatumua said

Faimalomatumua also advises all Samoan citizens residing overseas, to register next time they are in town.

The OEC office is ready to take their awareness programme on the road once the new financial year begins.

- Talamua