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Charlotte Amalie
Wednesday, February 8, 2023
HomeNewsArchivesAn Impractical Amendment

An Impractical Amendment

Dear Source:

Senator Russell makes an admirable point about allowing born-here Virgin Islanders, wherever they may live, to have the opportunity to affect the manner in which the government operates. Senator Russell seems to have compelling ideals as to who shall be able to vote on the Constitution, provided it comes to a vote before the electorate. The electorate, under existing law, is citizens, domiciles and qualified voters who reside within the Virgin Islands. What Senator Russell seeks to do is to make a law, which would remain in the Virgin Island Code unless it is specifically and only allowed for the Fifth Constitutional vote. What we would have then is the legislature affecting Virgin Island policy and law by whim.
While it is understandable the reason for such an amendment to law may be desirable to some, it is also exclusionary to many. For example, could a Virgin Islander who was born down island or a born continental and who spent most of his or her life here, be exempt from this allowance? Should people who quite possibly had been contributors to the Virgin Islands in a meaning full way not have the same privilege? Some people who lived here but were not born here and were outstanding citizens during their tenure here, chose to retire to another place and now may be citizens of that place, should not have the same privilege?
I do understand how modern communication can allow anyone to communicate electronically and very quickly. Senator Russell has implied that all this could be done through the Internet. I agree, a web site could be set up for this purpose and, through e-mail, verification of credentials could be accomplished such as a birth certificate file or former voting records. All one would have to do is scan them, create a file and send. Of course, this could be done by mail as well. But, who would set-up the website? Who would open the mail? And how would this amendment affect the existing workload of the elections commission? The proposed amendment did not also specify any funding to accomplish its goals.
Senator Russell has his heart in the right place but this amendment is blatantly exclusionary, lacks funding and does not specify the manner and means under which it can be accomplished. To answer your question Senator Russell, this is why this is not practical.
Yes, we have a year to put the mechanisms in place but we should not have presented an amendment without a lot of forethought on what the public thinks, what the elections commission thinks and how such a proposal could be funded. I suggest that the Governor veto this amendment until such time as it can be more thoughtfully worked out.
Paul Devine
St. John

Editor's note: We welcome and encourage readers to keep the dialogue going by responding to Source commentary. Letters should be e-mailed with name and place of residence to source@viaccess.net.

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