Oct. 31, 2002 – Registered U.S. Virgin Islands voters living in the British Virgin Islands are being urged in a radio commercial to come to St. Thomas and vote on Nov. 5, but John Abramson Jr., elections supervisor, said on Wednesday that it's not that cut and dried.
Listeners to Tortola radio station ZBVI have been hearing the appeal from the campaign organization of Gov. Charles W. Turnbull and Vargrave Richards to join hundreds of fellow "eligible voters" in the BVI in crossing the channel and casting their ballots for the Democratic Party slate on Tuesday.
The commercial pledges that for those making the trip by ferry, surface transportation will be provided to take them to the polls.
Taking the political campaign out of the territory is not viewed as unusual in Tortola. "It's the same thing that happens here for our elections," Sandra Potter, ZBVI operations and sales manager, said. "Boatloads of people come from St. Thomas to vote in our elections."
According to the paid political ad, as many as 2,000 U.S.-registered voters in the BVI are eligible to make the reverse trip on Tuesday.
Abramson doubts that, saying his evidence suggests there are about 200 persons in the BVI who are registered voters in the USVI. Plus, he said, those who take Turnbull/Richards up on their offer would have to meet the qualifications to vote in the United States. "It is a crime to do otherwise," he said.
Those qualifications include not having voted in any other jurisdiction while registered to vote in the USVI. "When you sign up as a registered voter in the [U.S.] Virgin Islands, you forsake your right to be registered anywhere else in the world," Abramson said.
There is a 90-day residency requirement, but this applies at the time the person registers to vote, Abramson said, not when the person appears at the polling place.
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