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Some voters disqualified after voting in Samoa election

Despite warnings from the Election Office, which have been carried by local news media, some American Samoa registered voters still cast ballots in last year’s Samoa election that returned to power the government of Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi’s Human Rights Protection Party.

As a result of voting in the Samoa election, these American Samoa registered voters cannot cast ballots in the territory’s Nov. 6 general election, as they are “disqualified” and will be purged from the voter roll.

“In previous years, prior to Samoa’s election, our office stated publicly, through the news media, as a reminder to our registered voters that they will not be allowed to vote in the local election, if they are found to have voted in Samoa,” Chief Election Officer Soliai Tuipine Fuimaono said yesterday.

“Last year, our office made this fact known again, but still there are voters who do not heed our advisory message,” Soliai said in an interview at his office yesterday morning.

“So we have identified six registered voters, who voted in Samoa last year and who will be contacted, to let them know that their names will be removed from the voter register and therefore they are not eligible to vote this year.”

“Our election laws are very clear, you can only vote in one country, or territory. This is also a federal law,” said Soliai, who said letters will be sent to the disqualified individuals, whose names are not publicly revealed due to local election laws pertaining to confidentiality issues.

Because they are now disqualified, these six individuals — if they wish to continue to vote in future American Samoa elections — will need to go through the registration process again, including meeting the residency requirement before being eligible to register to vote, said Soliai.

This information was echoed by Election Office legal counsel Gwen Tauiliili-Langkilde, who accompanied Soliai during the Samoa News interview, which covered other important election issues printed elsewhere in today’s edition.

In past years, the Election Office purged names of local registered voters after names were verified with the Samoa election commission.

Soliai expressed his sincere appreciation to the Samoa election commission and officials of that country’s Election Office for their “continued support and cooperation with our election office in these matters.”

“Without Samoa’s assistance and cooperation this difficult task for my office wouldn’t be a success,” said the Chief Election Officer, who added that the local Election Office stands ready every year to provide any assistance to our brothers and sisters at the Samoa election office.

“We are forever grateful to Samoa’s election commission,” he stated.