Elections System Sets Special Election for March 30

Supervisor of Elections Caroline Fawkes at the Legislature on St. Croix October 10, 2018. (Barry Leerdam photo courtesy of the V.I. Legislature)

A special election for reapportionment of the V.I. Legislature is set to be held March 30, 2019, according Elections Supervisor Caroline Fawkes, who said voters will be asked to choose between two measures appearing on the ballot.

Two groups, St. Croix Government Retirees, Inc. and Government Retirees United for Fairness, have initiatives they say will increase lawmakers’ accountability to their constituents.

Both initiatives were reviewed and approved by a titling board. Either one, if approved by voters, would amend the Virgin Islands Code, Title 2, Section 6. That statute established two voting districts for the territory — the district of St. Croix and the district of St. Thomas-St. John. Water Island was added to the St. Thomas district after it officially became the fourth U.S. Virgin Island in the mid 1990s.

Lawmakers approved a bill to conduct the special election Oct. 26. The measure includes a $45,000 appropriation to carry out the vote.

The reapportionment vote is expected to be the fourth ballot carried out by the system in a year. On Thursday, Fawkes described the steps needed to accommodate voters. Ballots will have to be prepared and approved by the Board of Elections; once approved, paper ballots will have to be printed.

Polls will be designated, poll workers and poll judges will be trained and assigned to the various polls. Voting machines will have to be tested. Security will be arranged for the day. Poll workers and judges will have to be paid, in addition to stipends paid to Elections Board members who oversee the process, tally and finalize the results.

“They’ll just do the special election. We’ve got to do a ballot. We’ll wait to see what the Legislature wants to do with that,” Fawkes said.

In addition to the special election, there was a primary election in August to pick Democratic candidates to compete in the General Election, scheduled for Nov. 6. Candidates for the offices of delegate to Congress, governor, lieutenant governor, senator-at-large, district senators, and members of the Board of Education and the Board of Election will be chosen on Tuesday.

In anticipation that some races may not reach the required threshold of 50 percent of total votes cast-plus-one, Fawkes said preparations are also being made for a runoff election on Nov. 20.

Early voting will be arranged for the March special election, but not for the November runoff, Fawkes said.