With the primary election just two weeks away, the St. Croix District Board of Elections at its meeting Thursday struggled to satisfy a court order and not make voting confusing for residents.
First on the agenda was how to deal with Democratic Party office ballots. The Democratic Party offices were not included on original ballots because the board had been arguing that the Democratic Party was responsible for election of its officers. However, a judge ruled differently.
New ballots, printed at a cost of $724, included only the Democratic Party offices – party chairman, party committee women, party committee members and party committee chairman. These ballots were to be handed out along with the ballots with candidates for the public offices – senators, and delegate to Congress.
However, the party officer ballots were printed in a way voting machines could not read.
As a procedure as to handle this was being discussed, member Adelbert "Bert" Bryan said any such procedure would be against legislative mandate. Member Raymond Williams agreed with him and the board decided it would direct supervisor of Elections Caroline Fawkes to have new ballots printed; ballots including both public and the party offices and which voting machines could read.
Barbara Jackson McIntosh, vice-chairwoman, who ran the meeting in the absence of Chairwoman Lilliana Belardo de O’Neal, said, “I don’t care what the cost is; just so we don’t disenfranchise any voters.”
Fewer than 6,000 ballots will be printed for the primary.
Another obstacle the board faces is time; it is running short. The board moved that the ballots should be printed and delivered to its office by Aug. 1. A recently published election notice said early voting would take place at district board of election offices – July 26 through July 31.
Also complicating matters was that St. Thomas|St. John District board member Ivy Moses was placed on original ballots, but a court ruling said she was ineligible to run for the Senate because of her position on the board of elections.
St. Croix has 14 candidates for Senate on the ballot. St. Thomas-St. John has 12. Two of the candidates in each district are running for an at-large position.
Incumbent Stacey Plaskett is being challenged in the race for delegate to Congress by former Sen. Ronald Russell. Controversy has erupted in this race because Plaskett has reported that her personal computer has been hacked and personal photos of her and her husband have been displayed on the Internet.
McIntosh said at present all registered voters were showing up on the programs used by poll workers. She said that to remove the potential for human error the data files should only show the names of registered Democrats. The board approved a measure to make that happen.
In case the printing of the new ballots could not be accomplished in time, the board adopted a process for storage and hand counting of Democratic Party ballots.
Board member Glenn Webster also attended the morning meeting in the conference room of the Board of Election office in Sunny Isles Annex.
The polls will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Aug. 6.
Notice of Election with polling places listed is linked here.