The St. Croix Elections Board voted to close two decrepit polling sites, open another and set up working committees at its monthly meeting Wednesday. However, the board did not certify the 2014 general election recount for three candidates.
“The results aren’t going to impact the election,” board member Raymond Williams said as he moved to table the recount until an opinion is received from the V.I. attorney general.
Two courts had different opinions regarding whether or not to recount votes for former Sen. Alicia Hansen, who was deemed an ineligible candidate. The attorney general will have the final say, according to Williams.
The board was unable to certify the recount for the other two candidates as well – Epiphine Joseph and former Sen. Diane Capehart – because not enough board members who counted the votes were present Wednesday.
Present at the meeting were Williams, Chairwoman Lilliana Belardo de O’Neal, Glenn Webster, Barbara Jackson McIntosh and Roland Moolenaar. Lisa Harris-Moorhead was excused and Adelbert Bryan was absent.
St. Gerard Hall and Charles H. Emmanuel School have not been used in the last two elections as polling places due to rundown conditions and inaccessibility by voters with disabilities. The board voted to close the sites and will notify voters from Emmanuel School to vote at the St. Croix Educational Complex and those registered for St. Gerard Hall will continue to vote at Claude O. Markoe Elementary School. (Both locations were used in 2012 and 2014 elections by those voters.)
Three other sites will be studied by the board for possible closure before the next election. Historically there are complaints that voters and campaigners at Florence Williams Library cause traffic jams in downtown Christiansted. Alexander Henderson School has maintenance and ADA compliance problems that may interfere with voting. John F. Kennedy housing community has fewer voters using the site than in the past and one board member said it is “a really bad place.”
According to de O’Neal, all affected voters will be notified by mail of location changes.
The board voted McIntosh to be permanent vice chairman since Harris-Moorhead only agreed at the last meeting to take the post temporarily.
After some discussion, the board organized three committees and several members volunteered their services. Williams recommended Harris-Moorhead, an attorney, for the Legal and Legislative committee. McIntosh volunteered for the Governance, Administrative and Fiscal committee, and Moolenaar and Williams volunteered to be on the Personnel committee.
During staff reports, Terrell Alexandre, administrative assistant to the board, announced the Elections State Plan will be available for public viewing on Mar. 22 on the website, www.vivote.gov, and in the public libraries.
Carolyn Fawkes, Elections supervisor, reported the old voting machines have no sales market and the recommendation by Electec, an election supplies and services company, is to “dump them.” Fawkes contacted Ohio and Pennsylvania Election Systems who use the same machines but received no answer.
Currently the machines are in storage with rent of $800 per month. Fawkes said there is free storage available on St. Thomas and, while there was discussion, the board did not make a decision.
Names of registered voters who did not vote in 2012 and 2014 should be purged before the next election, according to ES&S procedures. The procedures need to be approved by the Joint Board, Fawkes said.
Fawkes also reminded board members to contribute to the testimony being prepared for an upcoming Senate hearing.