St. Croix Board of Elections approves paper ballots policy
Published: July 20, 2012
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ST. CROIX - At its regular meeting on St. Croix on Thursday, the Joint Board of Elections approved a policy about casting paper ballots in the upcoming elections.
The eight members in attendance at the meeting all voted to approve the policy that outlines who can vote using a paper ballot; how to record who uses paper ballots; how spoiled ballots will be handled; and how the integrity of the process will be maintained.
The board decided that any registered voter can use a paper ballot upon request. Elections officials will write a letter "P" next to the names of voters who request paper ballots.
If a paper ballot is spoiled, the voter must write "spoiled" on it and put it into a separate receptacle and then will be issued another paper ballot.
Board member Lorna Thomas asked for changes to the policy regarding a voter handing a folded paper ballot to an election officer to be stamped and placed in the ballot box.
Thomas said she had concerns with anyone other than the voter touching a ballot.
"No matter what the process is, we are going to be questioned about it," she said. "Looking at it as a voter, I don't believe that anybody else should be handling the ballot."
Assistant Attorney General Kimberly Salisbury said the policy could be altered in any way as long as it follows the law.
Paper ballots, the voting machines and provisional ballots will be the three voting instruments used in the upcoming elections, per the board's vote.
The joint board heard reports from St. Croix Elections Board Chairman Rupert Ross Jr. and from Wilma Marsh Monsanto from the St. Thomas-St. John District about their previous district meetings. Members discussed correspondence that had been submitted to the board directed to individual members, the board as a whole or to the Elections Office.
Ross presented an issue to the board that had been discussed in the St. Croix district meeting earlier this month in which Mary Moorhead said that she wanted the Board of Elections to designate an item on its district and joint meeting agendas that would be specifically for public comment.
At the St. Croix meeting, members in attendance voted instead to schedule a public forum on Aug. 22 at 6 p.m. at the St. Croix Educational Complex. Ross said the forum will allow residents to air concerns about the election process or get clarification on any matter having to do with the upcoming elections.
During Thursday's joint board meeting, Ross put the item on the floor, and Monsanto said she believes the suggestion was a good one because she has been bombarded with similar requests from residents in her district.
Monsanto made a motion for the board to add a public comment item on its agendas, but when Ross asked for someone to second the motion, no one spoke, and the motion died.
While the board previously had announced polling locations for the upcoming election, Ross said the U.S. Justice Department had sent notice about ensuring that all of the polling places are in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. V.I. Elections Supervisor John Abramson Jr. said officials from the Justice, Elections and Education departments toured the proposed polling sites in St. Thomas on Wednesday, and they are in the process of making minor changes in some locations to achieve compliance. He said tours of the St. Croix facilities will be done July 26 or 27 to determine the level of compliance in that district.
Abramson did not have a supervisor's report for the board but provided bits of information during discussions on various topics. He said the Election System's 2013 budget was ready and submitted to the Legislature in March, and they now are prepared to go before the senate to defend that $1.8 million budget on Aug. 10.
Members in attendance at Thursday's meeting were Dodson James, Ana Davila, Ross, Carmen Golden and Lisa Harris-Moorhead from the St. Croix District and Monsanto, Thomas and Claudette Georges from the St. Thomas-St. John District.
- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email email@example.com.