Board of Elections OKs Calendar for March 30 Special Election

Board of Elections Chairman Raymond Williams presides over meeting on Friday.
Board of Elections Chairman Raymond Williams presides over meeting on Friday.

The Board of Elections reviewed and approved the special elections ballot for March 30 at its meeting Friday at the Economic Development Authority conference room in the William D. Roebuck Industrial Park on St. Croix.

The 14-member board also discussed and approved the use of paper ballots and activation cards to cover 70 percent of voters: 40 percent of paper ballots and 30 percent of activation cards.

Last November’s gubernatorial runoff election garnered 23,166 votes of 51,092 registered voters, Elections Supervisor Caroline Fawkes said. This is probably due to the large number of people using voter registration cards as identification, rather than using the cards to vote, she added.

The March special election will put before the voters a plan to create district senators and at-large senators and to impose residency requirements.

The Special Election requires voters to answer yes or no, said board member Lydia Hendricks from the St. Thomas-St. John District. She questioned the cost of paper ballots and asked to push the use of activations cards.

Discussions continued, with some board members saying voters must be given a choice for the use of ballots or activation cards. Chairman Raymond Williams noted that they ran out of paper ballots in the last election. This was because the activation cards were not pushed, thus giving voters a choice. Board members agreed.

Designated polling places were approved by the board and will remain the same as the primary election:

Juanita Gardine, Ricardo Richards and Claude O. Markoe elementary schools, St. Croix Educational Complex and David C. Canegata Recreational Center on St. Croix.

The University of the Virgin Islands Sports and Fitness Center, Charles W. Turnbull Library and Lockhart Elementary School on St. Thomas, and the Julius Sprauve School on St. John.

Early voting schedule was discussed and approved for the week in advance of the special election of March 30 to run from March 16 to March 22. Fawkes explained that the Elections System of the Virgin Islands needs seven days prior to the election date to prepare.

A discussion ensued between board members Hendricks and Epiphane Joseph from the St. Croix district about whether two weeks for early voting is excessive. The board agreed and voted February 28 as the last day of voter registration.

Election Day official training was also voted as a standardized training for all pollsters giving them knowledge of all duties.

The St. Croix Government Retirees, Inc. collected enough signatures from voters who supported restructuring the Legislature through an initiative.

“An initiative submitted to the voters will take effect if the initiative is supported by a majority of persons voting and if a majority of the voters of the Virgin Islands vote on the initiative.” This majority, by law, is 51 percent of the registered voters in the territory.

The proposal would create nine district senators with two in each district of St. Croix East and West, two in St. Thomas East and West and one on St. John. Three at-large senators from St. Croix and three at-large senators from St. Thomas would bring the total to 15 senators territory-wide.