V.I. Elections Systems supervisor to keep a closer eye on spending

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ST. THOMAS - The V.I. Elections System's supervisor is trying to rein in spending under her watch.

The St. Thomas-St. John District Board of Elections discussed Thursday the unsettling finances of the system and how they might affect upcoming elections later this year.

In December, Elections Supervisor Caroline Fawkes requested from the V.I. Finance Department the monthly financial reports on all Elections System bank accounts, noting that the system also has necessary capital improvements that need to be made at two of its conference facilities to meet standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

"We have major funding requirements programmed and would like to ensure we have access to the appropriate funds," Fawkes wrote in a letter to Finance Commissioner Angel Dawson.

Fawkes told the board that the reports would help her to compile responses to an ongoing audit by the Elections Assistance Commission. The commission is reviewing the Elections System's use of funds.

Fawkes acknowledged that the Elections System is short of money, which has forced her to cut back on spending for employee conferences and training.

The Finance Department reported that the Elections System had a negative amount available for the Elections Fund, Fawkes said. That does not mean necessarily that the fund is overspent already, but that the fund's monies are encumbered, or "tied up," she said.

How exactly they were tied up, she has yet to find out, Fawkes said.

The January report also disclosed that the Elections System's V.I. Voter Registration Fund had about $17,700 in it as of late January. The board also discussed the review of applications for five district applicants for voting equipment technicians, three of whom will be trained, and one of whom will be chosen as the technician for the St. Thomas-St. John District. Three also will be trained on St. Croix, with one chosen.

District board Chairman Arturo Watlington Jr. suggested that the system pull technicians from the government technology department, though Fawkes argued that the department was likely too understaffed to take on any additional work. The board will look into it, regardless, Fawkes said.

The board also discussed the need to get word out to the public as soon as possible regarding the election calendar - which was released a month later than hoped - the polling locations, and the polling procedures. The board still is considering what polling locations to confirm, as they need to ensure that all locations have ample space, parking and meet regulations for the Americans with Disabilities Act.

- Contact Jenny Kane at 714-9102 or email jkane@dailynews.vi.

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