Fawkes wants unmonitored voting machine in Elections office, just for Elections personnel

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ST. THOMAS - In one of the last St. Thomas-St. John District board meetings before the primary election, board members discussed a range of housekeeping matters and heard updates from the Elections supervisor.

No mention was made of Elections Supervisor Caroline Fawkes' illegal decision to shred the criminal arrest records of candidates, which were turned in as part of the candidates' nomination packets.

During Fawkes' report to the board, she said she would be closing down the demonstration voting machine that is in the St. Thomas Elections office on July 25.

Board chairman Arturo Watlington Jr. questioned that decision, asking what the harm would be to leave the demonstration machine out and available to anyone wishing to practice voting.

"I think it would be more beneficial for that machine to be on all the time," he said.

Fawkes said she was concerned it could be confused with the voting machine that will be in use in the office on Election Day.

Watlington took exception to that decision, as well.

"Are we creating a polling spot?" he asked.

He asked who would be using that machine, and Fawkes said it would be available for the Elections staff.

Watlington pointed out that there would be no judge or poll workers monitoring the machine, and there was nothing preventing the employees from voting in their normal precincts.

Under V.I. law, all employees must be given time to vote during their work day.

Run-off plan

Fawkes told board members that the federal government requires the Elections System to submit a run-off election plan by the end of the month.

Watlington said that would be impossible and unnecessary. He said the only federal race on the territory's ballot is the delegate to Congress seat, and in the General Election there will be only two candidates and no need for a run-off.

Fawkes said she has a draft plan and has gotten input from some board members on St. Croix. She said she would like the matter to be placed on the next Joint Board of Elections meeting agenda so she can meet the deadlines set up by the federal government.

She said every state must meet the same requirements.

Oswald Harris Court

The board received a petition from Hiram Abiff to reconsider the board's decision to close the Oswald Harris Court polling site for the primary election.

Last month, the board voted to keep only five St. Thomas polls open for the primary because fewer voters will be coming out to the polls. The 441 eligible voters at Oswald Harris Court instead will vote at Charlotte Amalie High School, less than a mile away.

Abiff contends that many elderly voters are in the polling district and cannot travel very far to vote.

Watlington said the candidates could offer to transport people to the polls, and anyone who cannot travel can vote with an absentee ballot. Several board members offered to take ballots to the elderly in OHC if that would help.

All board members present decided to keep the poll closed for the primary.

Smith complaint

Gubernatorial candidate Moleto Smith Jr. and his running mate, Hubert Frederick, filed an appeal of the supervisor's ruling.

Smith had first filed a complaint with Fawkes questioning whether Basil Ottley Jr. - who is running for lieutenant governor on Donna Christensen's ticket - has met the residency requirements to be a political candidate.

Fawkes said she reviewed Ottley's residency records and has determined that he is eligible to run in the election.

She also said that regardless, Smith's complaint was not filed within the allotted time period, so it was discarded.

Watlington said the appeal should be considered by the joint board, not the district board. He directed the board's legal counsel, Assistant Attorney General Kimberly Salisbury, to research whether the board can hear appeals of a decision made by the supervisor.

- Contact Aldeth Lewin at 714-9111 or email alewin@dailynews.vi.

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