The St. Croix District Board of Elections agreed upon polling places for this year’s primary and general elections at a meeting Wednesday at their offices in Sunny Isle. The board also planned a public forum to hear concerns from the community, agreed to extend office hours for voter registration, and discussed how best to count the optional paper ballots that will be introduced this year.
Four polling places will be used for the primary election Sept. 8. They are Juanita Gardine Elementary School, Ricardo Richards Elementary School, St. Croix Educational Complex and Alexander Hendersen Elementary School.
For the primary election, those who usually vote at Elena Christian, Pearl B. Larsen or John F. Kennedy should use the polling station at Juanita Gardine.
Those assigned to Lew Muckle or Alfredo Andrews will use Ricardo Richards.
Those who usually vote at Charles H. Emmanuel, Eulalie Rivera or Evelyn Williams will use the St. Croix Educational Complex.
Those assigned to Claude O. Markoe or St. Gerard will use Alexander Hendersen.
All of the polling places will be open for the general election on Nov. 6, except St. Gerard. The board decided the building would no longer be used for elections because it is not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Those who usually vote there should use Claude O. Markoe instead.
The board announced that there will be a voter registration drive at Sunshine Mall on Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon. People can also register at the Election System office at Sunny Isle on Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. The Election System office will extend their hours for registrations from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Aug. 6-9.
Only those registered to vote by Aug. 9 will be allowed to participate in the primary election.
The board is planning to hold a public forum at the St. Croix Education Complex on Aug. 22 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. to answer any questions the public might have about the voting process for this year’s elections. Those with concerns are encouraged to attend.
The board brainstormed ways to handle the introduction of paper ballots to the election process, though they did not come to any definitive answers. The Legislature mandated the use of paper ballots at all polling stations earlier this year as an alternative voting method for anyone who objects to using the voting machines.
“It was established as a voting instrument by law, and basically we were instructed that we had to use it,” explained Rupert Ross, chairman of the St. Croix District Board.
At the meeting, it was still unclear whether the ballots would need to be counted on the night of the election. Some members expressed concerns about the cost and logistics of doing so.
“If [election workers] are working past midnight, do we have to pay them additional money?” asked Lisa Harris-Moorhead. “At the very least I think we have to feed them, which would be more money.”
The board also debated whether it would be better to count the ballots at the polling stations or move them all to a central location for processing.
Ross said that all of these questions would need to be answered definitively by Aug. 29 when the board is set to begin certifying voting machines.