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Charlotte Amalie
Tuesday, June 18, 2024
HomeNewsArchivesBoard of Elections Chairman Defends His Vote

Board of Elections Chairman Defends His Vote

Dear Source:
The September 9th primary has passed. During July and August the public was consistently told that the attempt to save money through the reduction of the number of voting sites would disenfranchise voters. What is disenfranchising? Disfranchise- 1). to deprive (a person) if a right of citizenship, as of the right to vote. 2). to deprive of a franchise, privilege or right. The decision to reduce polls was not to deprive votes from voting, but rather to lessen the cost and problems (e.g., more individuals to provide service and supplies for more sites) associated with running an election.
Additionally, there is always the possibility there could be a run-off after the General Election on November 7, 2006. Because funds were not appropriated for a run off elections: the Board (STT/STJ) was being proactive in ensuring that funds would be available to accommodate an additionally election should it occur.
The decision to reduce the number of polls was not one that was made to inconvenience voters, but rather was made based on past data that was collected from previous primaries. As previously stated, in 2004 two polling sites were more than sufficient to accommodate over 7,000 voters; thus it was a logical conclusion that six polls would more than handle any significant increase in voters. Letters from Senators Berry and Malone, Democratic leaders, Cecil Benjamin and Glen Smith, the Board of Elections ST. CROIX District, and the Supervisor of Elections strongly encouraging the STT/STJ Board of Elections to open all polls to avert the possibility of disenfranchising any voter. We received criticism from Radio hosts AM/VI (Ms Peterson and Mr. Greaux), comments from Vincent Clendinen, Dr. Eddie Donaughue, Keith Richards, Ariel Melchoir, Senator Hill, Jason Budson, Atty. Mark Hodge, and 480 voters chastising the Board (especially me) to increase the number of polls to be opened. I have a local phrase for all of these individuals "all rope has an end". Although the majority of Board STT/STJ change their mind under the intense external pressure; I maintained my voted of no. As a active native Virgin Islander whose family has been in the Territory since before the 1890s I would never vote on any issue just to get along, if I believed it is not for the best interest of the Virgin Islands. I am a Virgin Islander first, an American second, and a Party member last.
The STT/STJ Board projected a turnout of approximately 10,000 voters out of the 17,674 eligible. While only 46% (8,293) of the eligible voters came out, of which 92 were Provisional, 550 Absentee (includes walk-in) and 7,651 at the polls on September 9, 2006. Even with the reduced polls (7), the STT/STJ District would have been able accommodate the projected increase from last primary in 2004 (7,068). In the end the numbers speak for themselves. Unfortunately, the opportunity to use resources to improve the system was lost. Money saved on this primary could have done so many other things to improve the Election System. This money could have been used to purchase laptops for the STJ District, computerized the voter ID cards, or for an audit of the Election system. Although, we cannot put the milk back into the bottle; hopefully in the future we will not get caught up in a whirl wind of emotions; but rather rely on commonsense and hard facts to guide us.
In conclusion I leave you with two facts, Title 18 section 451 All primaries and elections in the Virgin Islands shall be conducted by ballot. The Supervisor of Elections shall, prior to each primary and election, prepare the format of the ballot as it shall appear on the electronic voting machine in the form prescribed by this chapter. Instructions on each official ballot shall be printed in both the English language and the Spanish language. Title 18 section 195 a) In selecting polling places each board of elections shall, whenever possible and practicable, section school houses or other public, civic or fraternal buildings for that purpose, subject to the provisions of subsection (b) of this section, the Commissioner of Education, or to her proper official or officials, shall upon request of the board, make arrangements for the use of school or other public property for polling places. B) Schools or other public property shall be used for polling places as not to interfere with the use thereof for the purpose for which they are primarily intended.
Lawrence Boschulte
St. Thomas

Editor's note: Lawrence Boschulte is the chairman of the St. Thomas-St. John Board of Elections.

Editor's note: We welcome and encourage readers to keep the dialogue going by responding to Source commentary. Letters should be e-mailed with name and place of residence to source@viaccess.net.

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