Low turnout for primary on St. Croix
Published: September 10, 2012
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ST. CROIX - If a person had not read the advertisements and announcements in the local newspapers or heard them on the radio, it would have been difficult to tell that Saturday was the day of the primary election on St. Croix.
Fewer than the normal number of residents went to the polls to cast their votes for their preferred candidate for Delegate to Congress, Senator At-large and a number of party positions.
The turnout of voters and people campaigning was low, and the activity was visible only at the polls.
"Things are really slow today," said Sheila Wilson, as she walked out of the polls at Alexander Henderson School. "Usually when I'm coming in, there are people on both sides rallying and giving me things to try to sway my vote, but today was so quiet."
At most of the polling sites, only two distinct camps were set up, with fewer than 10 people manning either of them for most of the day. A camp for Delegate to Congress Donna Christensen and one nearby for delegate candidate Stacey Plaskett were prominent at each polling site, with a few posters sprinkled into the mix for senatorial at-large positions and a few party positions. Most campaign supporters were low-key when they approached voters walking into the polls, handing them a card or pamphlet with their candidate's number and information.
Somecandidates went from poll to poll, and even from island to island, to rally last-minute support in each district. Senator At-large candidate Andrew Rutnik made his rounds on St. Croix starting early in the morning, then checked in at polling places on St. Thomas before wrapping up the day in his home district on St. John. Sen. At-large Sen. Craig Barshinger made his rounds in reverse and ended at the Elections Office on St. Croix as the results came in.
Sherryann Richards said she took time out of her day of relaxation to vote because she knows it is important.
"It's Saturday, and we all want to relax, but our islands are in trouble, and we have to be the ones to put our voices out there to be heard on the things that matter," she said. "We can't be too complacent and expect that other people will do right for us. We have to make the move."
She said that once she was finished with voting, she was heading to the beach to enjoy the rest of the day.
Poll judges said the day was slow but steady, which was what they had expected for a primary election in a non-gubernatorial year and without a senatorial race in the district. By mid-day, most had seen less than half the number of voters they typically would see in a primary.
"The ballot on St. Croix is small, so I expected a low turnout," said Elaine Spencer, judge for St. Gerard's Hall polling place. "We have a lot of senior citizens in our area, so maybe it was not worth the hassle for them to come out for such a limited ballot."
Things seemed to be going smoothly at the four polling stations at Juanita Gardine Elementary School. The stations were set up in different rooms at the school, and judges for all four stations said there hadn't been any issues.
"It's going OK. It's a little slow today," said Eurece Hendricks, poll judge at the Florence Williams Library at the Gardine site. "We're doing fine. No problems."
Very few problems were reported overall according to judges and Elections System officials. At Williams school, an electrician had to be called to install some light bulbs after a number of voters complained that the voting booths were too dark.
Even the Elections System Office on Saturday night was quiet as cartridges were being turned in and counted. Deputy Supervisor of Elections James Weber III said budget cuts for the system resulted in them eliminating the big-screen outside the office, which projected the results linked from the Elections System's website.
Fewer than a dozen candidates and supporters milled about inside and outside the office, getting the updated voting results as they were downloaded and printed from the Internet. A few others watched the process of reading the cartridges and counting the paper ballots until late in the evening.
- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.