Although two members refused to participate, the St. Croix Elections Board discussed plans to conduct the primary election in line with the Joint Board of Elections and finalized voting locations for the 2016 primary and general elections at Wednesday’s meeting.
Board Chairwoman Lilliana Belardo de O’Neal and Roland Moolenaar remained firm that they will not participate in the August primary, citing conflicting sections in Title 18 of the V.I. Code.
Members Barbara Jackson McIntosh, Raymond Williams and Glenn Webster said they would go along with the territorial board’s vote.
Last month, the Joint Board of Elections, comprising members from the St. Croix and the St. Thomas/St. John district boards, interpreted the law to mandate the Elections boards host a primary election for elected but not political party offices.
“The bottom line is we have to do the job we were elected to do,” Williams said.
Elections Supervisor Caroline Fawkes pointed out that a board quorum is necessary to certify the election even if a quorum of members does not oversee the voting process.
Fawkes added that a representative from one of the political parties threatened a temporary restraining order after being advised that political party offices will not be on the ballot.
After months of discussion about ADA compliance and voter comfort, the four participating board members finalized locations for the primary and general elections and for early voting.
Polling sites for the Aug. 6 primary on St. Croix will be Canegata Community Center, Ricardo Richards, Juanita Gardine and Alexander Henderson Elementary Schools and the St. Croix Educational Complex.
Voting for the general election on Nov. 8 will be held at Henderson, Richards, Gardine, Eulalie Rivera, Alfredo Andrews and Lew Muckle Elementary Schools, the Educational Complex and Canegata Community Center.
Since there have been a number of changes in polling places since the 2014 election, Fawkes said that voters are being advised by mail where they should report for the 2016 election.
Board members expressed concern and suggested that since a lot of the mail has been returned by the U.S. Post Office, press releases be sent out encouraging voters to record address changes at the Elections office and the Post Office.
Sites for early voting will be set up at Sunshine Mall and the Elections office from July 20 to Aug. 2 and from Oct. 22 to Nov. 4.
The Elections Board does not always keep politics out of its discussions and Wednesday included a short, heated discussion and a vote to “condemn” the Republican Party and the supervisor of elections for holding a caucus at the Elections office.
The caucus meeting was held apparently without board knowledge or approval, making it “appear collusive,” McIntosh said. Belardo De O’Neal, a Republican, said she “takes responsibility.”
Fawkes said the party was counting ballots and it is acceptable to host the event if every party is treated equally.
The resolution to “condemn” the Republican Party meant the resolution would go on record to serve as notice in the future, Webster said, after making the motion.
The board also voted to audit the primary election on Aug. 11 and the general election Nov. 14, “notwithstanding challenges,” Williams said.
They also voted to invite the public to witness disposal of 2014 ballots.
Before adjourning the meeting, the board approved a preliminary 2016 budget of $125,598, with $25,000 requested for airfare and travel. Last year, the V.I. Legislature approved an $80,000 budget with more than $23,000 in travel expenses.