Delegation to Observe V.I. Election; Early Voting Numbers Set Record

Deputy Elections Supervisor Kevermay Douglass listens to concerns from Board members Lydia Hendricks, left and chairman Arturo Watlington, Jr.
Deputy Elections Supervisor Kevermay Douglass listens to concerns from Board members Lydia Hendricks, left and chairman Arturo Watlington, Jr.

Glitches with the video conferencing system cut Friday’s Board of Elections meeting short and while some issues – such as concerns over the use of picture identification cards at the polls – were not addressed, a report from Elections Supervisor Caroline Fawkes spawned some new back and forth about possible security issues.

Fawkes had announced after the primary that delegations of election officials from neighboring islands had come over to observe the territory’s process, and were also going to be on hand during the Nov. 6 general. Fawkes confirmed Friday that officials from Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands were going to monitor Tuesday’s activity on St. Croix and hope to get answered questions on absentee voting and machines.

While Fawkes said Friday that she was “proud” to share what the territory is doing with female elections supervisors from the region, board members had concerns about possible security risks. Member Barbara Jackson-McIntosh spoke about incidents in years past with “fake” officials calling in from Ghana, and said a process should be put in place to verify each visitor’s identity with the U.S. State Department.

No resolution on new measures was made.

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Meanwhile, Fawkes said 11,896 – or a little more than 23 percent – of registered voters took advantage of the early voting process over the past few weeks. According to the most recent numbers, there are more than 51,000 registered voters territory-wide.

Sharing the system’s most recent financials, Fawkes told the board that last week Elections was allotted $350,000 for the general election. For the fiscal year, $1.7 million in total was allotted to the Elections System, with a combined $140,000 for the board $125,000 for the primary, which has already been spent.

Fawkes had no word on money to cover a possible runoff, which the board also discussed Friday, saying that in the event that another election is needed, the University of the Virgin Islands’ Sports and Fitness Center will not be available as a venue. Members said other sites would be explored.

In the event of a runoff, however, Fawkes said the process would be similar to the one in 2014. Early voting will not be conducted, and the system will instead focus on getting out absentee ballots, since the timeframe is significantly shorter.

Board members and Fawkes were also on hand Friday night to go over election protocols with this year’s poll judges, and board members were asked to report to the Elections’ offices by 7 p.m. Tuesday to get the general election counting started.

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