Elections Board Votes to Turn Primary Over to Parties

p>The St. Croix Board of Elections voted Wednesday to notify the three major parties that it would be up to them to fund the 2016 primary election – otherwise the candidates would appear only on the general election ballot.

In a unanimous vote, the board directed Elections supervisor Caroline Fawkes to ask the Democratic, Republican and ICM party chairmen to provide their plans and procedures, under a deadline, to run the election.

They also voted in favor of Raymond William’s motion to notify the Joint Board of Elections that “St. Croix is going to comply with the statute regarding the primary.”

The Elections Board has recommended political parties be responsible for primary elections as far back as 1997. In 2012, the Senate discussed the issue and voted to give the political parties until January 2014 to get organized. Going forward, the board and Elections System would conduct and certify voting with the parties paying the bills.

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However in 2014, first the St. Thomas/St. John board, then St. Croix district relented and requested funds to hold the primaries. They said monies had been set aside in the government’s miscellaneous fund.

At that time, Fawkes reported the Office of Management and Budget informed her the system had the funds and was to fund the primary.

On Wednesday, board members said Sec. 232, Title 18 of the V.I. Code authorizes them to hand over the primary financing, stating, “The Board of Elections will be responsible for certifying the process to be used by any political party to select party officers and candidates for public office.”

During the three-hour meeting, the board also discussed new polling places and merging some sites.

Sunshine Mall, John H. Woodson Junior High, Ricardo Richards Elementary School, Golden Rock Shopping Center and St. Dunstan’s School have been inspected as possible voting sites, board members Barbara Jackson McIntosh and Raymond Williams, reported.

So far, St. Dunstan’s and Sunshine Mall best meet the criteria, including ADA accessibility, lighting and parking. Eulalie Rivera Elementary and Juanita Gardine Elementary were also discussed but Williams said ADA compliance at those and other schools has not been addressed by the Education Department.

None of the suggestions were voted on; members said they need more information.

Fawkes pointed out decisions need to be made this year to comply with the federal laws regarding notifying the public of elections.  It was agreed by the board that the cost of insurance and renting port-a-potties should be researched before any decisions are made. 

During the polling place discussion, Fawkes said some voters should be relocated from Castle Burke, Golden Grove and Hannah’s Rest neighborhoods to the St. Croix Educational Complex precinct and from Sandy Point, Stoney Ground, White Bay and White Lady areas to the Claude O. Markoe precinct. Carlton voters could be relocated to the yet to be determined Evelyn Williams precinct.

“We’re trying to get people to vote where they live,” she said.

The board also agreed to submit Jan. 22 and Jan. 26 as possible dates for a quarterly required Joint Board meeting to discuss ballot format and a calendar for the 2016 elections.

Attending Wednesday’s meeting were board members Lilliana Belardo de O’Neal, Williams, McIntosh, Adelbert Bryan, Glenn Webster, Lisa Harris Moorhead, Roland Moolenaar and Samuel Walker, deputy solicitor general.  

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