Sept. 30, 2004 Every two years Virgin Islands voters head to the polls to select the persons they believe can lead the territory to a brighter future. But with over 4,000 persons purged from the territory's voters lists whose views are being advocated? For your opinion to matter, you must be registered to vote. And there isn't much time left.
This Sunday, Oct. 3, is the last day to register to vote in the November general elections. Election offices in the territory will be open extended hours on Saturday and Sunday. In addition, several voter registration drives will attempt to boost the percentage of eligible voters.
Rashidi Clenance of Sunstroke Promotions wants to pull a diverse crowd at his second annual "Gotto Vote" voter registration initiative. He's scheduled a "virtually free" concert. Anyone who wants to register to vote or has a voter's registration card gets in free. If you are under the voting age, to get in free you have to be accompanied by an adult registering to vote or with a valid voter i.d. The featured artists will appeal to people of all ages, Clenance said.
The concert will be held on Sunday, Oct. 3, at Island Center from 5 to 10 p.m. Election office staff will conduct voter registration on site from 5 to 7 p.m. Performers include DJ Cuchi, DJ Swain, Xpress Band, Xtaushun Band, BlaKness, Katalyss, Spungee, Rock City (formerly 2Ekwip), Raffy of Star Lion family along with LP recording artists Apostle and Ketia.
"People have become discouraged when it comes to politics," said Clenance. He said he realizes the importance of voting and as election day gets closer, "people will have the itch to vote." Clenance said he believes this is a very important election. "Just look at the headlines, [we need to elect] responsible people," he said. "We need to send a message that we are watching."
But, according to the Election office Web site, thousands of people who voted in the past will not be exercising their right to vote in November. According to Natalie Thomas, deputy election supervisor, in election off-years the election staff goes through the voter list to identify people who have not cast a vote in two recent elections. In 2003 that survey resulted in the elimination of about 4,204 voters in the St. Croix district and about 4,084 in the St. Thomas/St. John district.
Thats a lot of lost votes. It's enough to skyrocket a candidate to the top of the list in any election. In the 2002 St. Croix senatorial election, top vote-getter Sen. Douglas Canton got 6,459 votes, while in St. Thomas, top vote-getter Sen. Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg had 8,726 votes. 2002 was a gubernatorial election year where there are traditionally more votes cast than in a non-gubernatorial year.
However, a new crop of potential voters are "pouring in" to the St. Croix elections office, according to one worker there. "We are registering 3050 new people each day," said a woman in the office during a brief telephone interview. Too busy to even give her name, she politely excused herself from the interview, saying, "I have to take care of my clients."
At the St. Thomas office, the deputy supervisor said she is not getting that many new voters, but the influx has been steady.
You have to be 18 years old to register to vote, show proof of citizenship such as a birth certificate or a passport, proof of residency with a light or telephone bill and your social security card. If you already have a voters' registration card and have not voted in the past two elections, your registration card is not valid and you have to re-register.
Procrastinators still have several chances to get their voter registration card in St. Croix, St. Thomas and St. John. Last minute registrations will be processed at the following dates and times:
-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Elections office in Estate Diamond next to the movie theatre.
-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Elections office in Estate Diamond next to the movie theatre.
-Sunday, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Elections office in Estate Diamond next to the movie theatre.
-Sunday, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Island Center.
-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Elections office, #22 Crystal Gade across from the Day Adult -Education Center.
-Saturday, closed no voter registrations.
-Sunday, 2p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Elections office, #22 Crystal Gade.
-Saturday, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Westin Resort and Villas.
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