With early voting for the 2022 General Election about to wrap up, members of the Board of Elections met Wednesday to review its procedures for Election Day and the counting and tabulation of ballots.
The board voted to consult the Justice Department about electioneering, a custom where candidate supporters appear in public to make final appeals to voters entering the polls. Board members are asking Justice for an opinion on the 200-foot rule, which sets the distance from which campaign supporters must stand or set up tents from the voting center.
The issue came up for discussion after board member Lisa Harris-Moorhead said she measured the distance at one St. Croix polling place and found supporters camped out 160 feet away from the poll. There was also a question as to whether the law can apply if electioneers set up on private property that happens to be within 200 feet of the poll.
“Get an opinion from the (attorney general), so we can end the debate,” Moorhead said.
Board Chairman Raymond Williams and Elections Supervisor Caroline Fawkes told the board about efforts being made to avoid delays in vote tabulation on Election Day. A significant delay was experienced in the St. Thomas-St. John-Water Island district during the Aug. 6 primary.
Leaders of the Election System of the Virgin Islands and the Elections Board also led a review of voting centers to be used on Nov. 8. On St. Thomas, voters can cast ballots at the Ivanna Eudora Kean High School cafeteria, at Tutu Park Mall in the old Scotia Bank site; at the Charlotte Amalie High School in the gymnasium, and at the Elridge Blake Sports and Fitness Center at the University of the Virgin Islands, St. Thomas campus.
St. Croix voters can cast ballots at the Arthur Richards K-8 School cafeteria, the St. Croix Educational Complex gymnasium, at the Central High School gymnasium, at St. Dunstans School in Orange Grove, and at the Canegeta Recreation Center.
Voters on St. John can cast their ballots in Cruz Bay at the Julius Sprauve School and in the Coral Bay area at the Calabash Boom Community Center on Route 107.
In the event the vote tallies require a runoff election to determine a winner, elections officials have set a date of Nov. 22. Three days of early voting would take place from Nov 19-21.
“We’ll certify on the 18th, if necessary absentee ballots will be made available immediately after the 18th. Registered voters who currently had them requested for all elections will automatically get them,” Williams said in comments made to the Source after the meeting. “Any one elector can request one, have someone pick up the ballot after filling the request form, or if they do wish to waive their right to privacy, can get it via facsimile or other electronic means.”
Members also made plans to accommodate candidates wishing to deploy poll watchers. They voted to immediately allow candidates to have poll watchers for the remainder of early voting, which ends Oct. 31, and on Election Day.
“As long as they made applications prior to the Oct. 14 deadline,” Williams said.
And because a number of Elections Board members are running for re-election in this voting cycle, members went over the rules for when and how they can and cannot participate in vote counting.
Board of Elections officials also said they plan to meet with candidates on Nov. 3 to go over the Election Day protocols.