The V.I. Joint Board of Elections reversed its earlier notions and is reprinting the ballots for the Nov. 8 general election.At its meeting last Thursday, the board had failed by one vote to pass a motion to have the ballots reprinted since they did not have party symbols on them as required by law.
Two things happened since the last meeting. Attorney General Claude Walker advised the board that the general election ballot did not conform to law and advised a reprinting of the ballots.
Secondly Elections Supervisor Caroline Fawkes researched timelines on reprinting the ballots and received new sample ballots. She assured the board member that the ballots could be done in time for the election.
Democratic Party State Chairwoman Donna Christensen, the former delegate to Congress, said she was satisfied with the Joint Board’s change of heart.Christensen started the discussion when she wrote a letter to Fawkes saying that because the ballot does not display the party symbol next to the name of the respective party candidate it violated local law.
Not everyone was happy with the change.
St. Thomas board member Carla Joseph said, referring to the fact that new ballot would not have photos of the candidates next to their name, “It is very clear. I will not support anything that does not comply with the law.”
Loretta Petersen, Democratic Party District chair, after the meeting appeared to agree with Joseph about the photos on the ballot. However, she said, “At least we got them to fix part of it.”
Joseph was also concerned about the part of the law that said there should be separate ballots for the Delegate to Congress race and Board of Education.
Board member Raymond Williams, who made the motion to have the ballots reprinted, addressed those concerns. He said that the way that the ballot separated the different races on the single ballot complied with the law. He said that the section of the law requiring photos on the ballot was outdated and could not realistically be complied with using the latest voting machines.
He said, “Reality still prevails. We have to continue to lobby the Legislature to update the laws.”
The meeting ended in confusion as St. Croix board member Adelbert Bryan raised what he called a “point of order” after the motion passed. After listening to Bryan for a few seconds, Joint Board Chairman Arturo Watlington said that what Bryan was saying did not qualify as a “point of order,” and he hit the gavel and said, “Meeting adjourned.”
Bryan kept on talking. Watlington put on his cap and left the meeting.
The decision by the board to reprint the ballot has those who voted early using the old ballot wondering whether their vote will count. More than 325 people had voted early on St. Croix by Tuesday afternoon.