With Parliaments’ approval, all eligible voters under law including Samoa’s diaspora must register or re-register to vote in the next general elections.

And the Office of the Electoral Commissioner is already on the ground beginning the re-registration nationwide for all Samoan based voters.

The re-registration initiative, according to the Minister in Charge of the Electoral Commission, Faualo Lefau Harry Schuster is targeted to upgrade the old electronic registration system which is obsolete.

The old system has developed a lot “technical difficulties,” explained Faualo noting that it lacks the capacity to store new voters’ registration including citizens (here and abroad) who have turned 21 years old as dictated by law as duly authorise to vote in elections of the country’s leaders.

And the Minister means business packed by his announcement in Parliament recently that all Samoan citizens, including those who reside overseas, can be prosecuted once they enter the country if they do not undergo a compulsory election registration.

Faualo assured that voters who have registered and already on the electoral roll only have to do biometrics to complete the new registration system.

The obsolete system, he reiterated is not compatible to the new system which has prompted a completed voters’ re-registration headed by the Electoral Commissions Office. According to the amendments, all new voters, including the Samoan diaspora, must register online then travel to Samoa to complete registration by getting biometrics done.

To ensure that every eligible voter is afforded every opportunity to participate in Samoa’s democratic election process,

The amendments include opening up the online portal to allow Samoans abroad to register but they have to travel to Samoa to have their biometrics done before their registration is accepted.

Faualo said under the law compulsory registration is for all Samoans who have turned 21 years old, whether they reside in Samoa or not.

He told the House during debate that it is unfair to punish eligible living in Samoa who do not register or register while Samoan citizens living overseas are not treated equally should they fail to take part in the election process through voters’ registration.

“It is easy to penalise those living here but for those overseas, it is only when they come back. The main focus is equal treatment and opportunity for people, it doesn’t mean you get away if you live in New Zealand,” he told the lawmakers.

He said the only difference in the application of the law is that those living in Samoa will get charged while those living overseas will go through the process when they return.

The new approved amendments to the Electoral Act now allows all Samoan citizens living abroad to register on line but they are mandated to return to the country to complete their registration with their biometrics, (electronic finger prints and digital passport photos etc.)

Before, the privilege was available only to Samoan students’ studying overseas on scholarships and public servants delegated to work as Diplomatic Staff in the Governments’ Consulates and High Commissioners Offices.