A desire for change draws voters in large numbers on St. Thomas
Published: September 10, 2012
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ST. THOMAS - While some polling sites were busier than others, overall, turnout was strong for Saturday's primary on St. Thomas and St. John.
With four polls jammed into the Curriculum Center, voters stood in long lines for most of the day for a chance to cast their ballots.
Judith George, the judge at the Curriculum Center poll said the line was very long when the poll opened, and then it was a steady stream of voters all day, picking back up again in the last hour before the poll closed.
"This is the first time in a long time - for a primary - that it's this steady and not even sometimes slow," George said.
The poll opened on time, but with a very long line of 40 or 50 people, voter Andre Malone said. He was at the Curriculum Center before 8 a.m., and he said the line was so long, he saw two people get frustrated and leave.
Cancryn poll judge Ivy Williams said she was surprised at the turnout. Looking through her judge's journal, she said her poll had 291 total voters in the 2008 primary - which was the last year without a governor's race - and by 4:30 p.m. she was already up to 265 and expected to pass 300 by the close of the poll.
"It's been a good day, a good, good, day," she said.
Many of the voting precincts were using E-Poll books for the first time. With a stylus and a touch screen, poll workers would type in the first few letters of a person's name, pull up their registration, verify their date of birth and check them in.
"I think it will be faster," Winston Raymo Center poll judge Lola Roberts-Richards said.
Outside Charlotte Amalie High School, perceptions of the day's turnout differed.
"It's kind of slow so far," Donald Cole supporter Cecil Farrell said about 3 p.m. "I don't know if the people are sending a message, but that's not how you send a message. You got to come out and choose somebody. Staying home is not going to do it."
In contrast, Andrew Rutnik supporter Ian Brummell, dancing in the street with a very large sign urging voters to support his candidate, was having a blast.
"The day is going great. We have a great crowd and some of us have formed alliances," he said about the various candidate's supporters. "We've got food, drinks and someone just added music. This poll is pumping."
Many different issues drew voters to the polls Saturday.
"My voting picks are slim, but I want to see a change," Tiffany Gumbs said.
Affordable homeownership, quality public education and youth development opportunities are Gumbs' biggest issues, and she said there are only a few candidates on the ballot that she believes will make those issues a priority.
"I am hoping, I want to be awed, that those that get in will actually start to work for the people and not just for the few," Gumbs said.
Leo Moron, walking into the Cancryn voting precinct, did not narrow down the issues important to him.
"Everything" was the reason he was casting a ballot Saturday, he said.
Donna Dennis said she has not seen very much change in the last few years. She wants to know why there are still potholes on the roads, and trash in the streets.
"Where's the money going?" she asked.
Derry O'Neal said he went to the polls Saturday to have his voice heard.
"It's very important to exercise your right," he said. "Unlike some of the places you hear about where they are discouraging people from voting, we are free here."
He said when it comes to picking candidates, this year's choices are a mix of old and new.
"Those doing a good job, we'll keep, and those that aren't, we'll get out," he said.
Tulani Brathwaite was minding her four small children while her husband cast his ballot at Cancryn Saturday afternoon.
"I'm just here to bring a little support and encourage him to vote for the right people," she said.
High energy costs and education topped her list of crucial issues. She also wanted more recycling programs in the territory.
"We need to invest more in education," she said.
At the Oswald Harris Court poll, Sonia Industrious said youth issues were her main concern as well.
"It's no longer about me at age 51," she said. "It's about the children."
- Contact reporter Aldeth Lewin at 714-9111 or email email@example.com.