With early voting for the 2016 General Election coming up on Oct. 22, Joint Board of Elections members moved quickly Tuesday on several ballot issues, including how many to order before next month.
Supervisor of Elections Caroline Fawkes recommended that enough ballots be ordered to cover 70 percent of the registered voters in each district. While voter turnout in previous senatorial elections (those that don’t include a gubernatorial race) was under that number – 63 percent on St. Croix in 2012 and 58 percent on St. Thomas-St. John, for example – Fawkes said that the 70 percent would be at least enough to cover early voting, General Election day and absentee votes.
In total, there are 15,000 voters registered voters on St. Croix and 16,514 registered voters in the St. Thomas-St. John district, Fawkes said.
Board members agreed with Fawkes’ recommendation and approved it quickly, allowing the board to move on to the issue of possibly having separate ballots for the upcoming election.
Board members said having two ballots would help clarify who is running for Senate, Board of Education and Board of Elections slots.
While some board members, such as newcomer Ivy Moses, agreed with having separate ballots – one for senatorial candidates and the other for those running for board positions – many others said having extra paper at the polls would just confuse residents.
St. Croix board member Lilliana Belardo de O’Neal said that previous elections with two or three ballots has just “frustrated” voters and resulted in more work for the board.
St. Croix board member Raymond Williams added that, in elections where candidate numbers are close, it is more time consuming to have to count two separate ballots instead of being able to count just one and have the results more quickly.
In the end, the Joint Board voted to have one ballot, with color-coded sections for Board of Education and Board of Elections candidates.
Board members said that the Elections System has continued to go against general practice by not having candidate pictures on the ballot.
Board members also said that early voting for the General Election begins Oct. 22 and runs through Oct. 31.
Members present at Tuesday’s meeting were Belardo de O’Neal, Williams, Moses, Lydia Hendricks, Diane Magras, Arturo Watlington Jr., Alecia Wells, Lisa Harris-Moorhead and Roland Moolenaar.