One Primary Polling Place on St. John; Voting Registration Deadline August 10

In order to be a part of the democratic election process, residents must register by Thursday, August 10, to be able to vote in the territorial primary. Only one of the two polling stations on St. John will be open for the primary election, which is scheduled for Saturday, September 9.

One Primary Polling Station
Normally two polling stations — at the Julius E. Sprauve School (JESS) in Cruz Bay and the Guy Benjamin School (GBS) in Coral Bay — are open to accommodate voters across the island.

This year, however, only the JESS location will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. The GBS polling station will be open for the Tuesday, November 7, general election, according to election officials.

Love City is not the only island in the territory where a limited number of polling stations will be open for the primary election, the entire St. Thomas/St. John district is affected. Only six out of a total of 14 polling stations will be open in the district.

Territory-wide Problem
V.I. Governor Charles Turnbull joined the call to open all polling stations in the district for the primary elections.

“Too many people have toiled and sacrificed their lives throughout history for the sacred right to vote for me to allow a decision to reduce polling places which have the possible effect of depriving any person of their ability to vote in the primary,” the governor said in a prepared statement.

More Stations Needed
“I call on the St. Thomas/St. John Board of Elections to reverse their decision and I call upon the individual voters as well as other elected leaders of this territory to make their voices heard on this very critical matter,” Governor Turnbull continued. “It is incredible that individuals elected to facilitate the voting public would put impediments to voter participation.”

Some Coral Bay residents are taking the news in stride.

“I guess when you hear how few there will be open on St. Thomas, having one station here isn’t too bad,” said Coral Bay Community Council president Sharon Coldren. “Relatively speaking, the travel time for St. Thomas residents will be far too.”

“I hope that people who need a ride to the polls will ask,” Coldren added. Other residents were not so understanding about the Election System’s choice of polling stations.

Residents Disenfranchised
“I think it’s unfair unless they provide a shuttle service which they are unlikely to do,” said a Coral Bay resident. “It’s not right. I’d be interested in finding out how the candidates feel about this.”

“In order to be a fair election, the voting has to be available to everyone, and it’s not,” the resident continued. “The voting will only be in town and with our existing parking problems it will be difficult to get to the polls.” Coral Bay residents will get a chance to put their questions to the candidates running in the primary, Coldren added.

CBCC Candidate Forum
“The CBCC is planning a primary election candidate forum,” she said. “We are having some difficulties organizing it, but residents should stay tuned for upcoming announcements.”

Thursday, August 10, is the final day for residents to register to vote in the territorial elections. The St. John Election System Office, which is located across from the Texaco gas station, next to JESS’s industrial arts building, is open only on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and from 1 to 5 p.m.

No Extra Hours During Election Season
Election System officials do not expect to extend those hours or increase the number of days which the office is open. Residents should call 776-6535 to ensure that the office is open.

Only Independent and Democratic candidates are currently running for office, according to Election System officials, who added that if Republicans do file to run for office, a Republican primary will be announced.

Registered Democrats are the only voters allowed to cast their ballots in the Democratic primary. Residents must declare a party affiliation when registering to vote, even if that affiliation is no party.

Democrats and Independents So Far
So far, three Democratic teams have announced their plans to run for V.I. Governor and Lieutenant Governor — current V.I. Lieutenant Governor Vargrave Richards and St. Thomas accountant Roy Jackson; former V.I. Senator and Superior Court Judge Edgar Ross and V.I. Senate President Lorraine Berry; and St.Thomas businessman John deJongh, Jr. and former St.Croix Administrator Greg Francis.

Former V.I. Senator, Lieutenant Governor and Public Finance Authority Director Kenneth Mapp and former Senator-at-Large Almando “Rocky” Liburd are running for V.I. Governor and Lieutenant Governor on the Independent ticket as well as Senator Aldah “Foncie” Donastorg and Head Doctor at Hovensa Dr. Cora Chrisitan.

Registration Requirements
Residents must be a U.S. citizen, be aged 18 or older before the election, and meet residency requirements in order to be eligible to vote in the V.I.

Citizens must reside in the territory and in their respective election district for at least 90 days to meet residency requirements.

When registering, residents must present either a birth certificate, U.S. passport or a naturalization certificate.

Citizens must register by Sunday, October 8, in order to be eligible to vote in the November 7 general elections.