Sept. 13, 2002 – Thanks to a policy decision made by the Joint Boards of Elections in July, when voters go to the polls on Saturday for the primary balloting, they'll need binoculars to read the campaign posters.
Elections supervisor John Abramson Jr. said the boards decided that campaign supporters bent on trying to convince voters to cast ballots for their candidates must stand at least 1,000 feet away from polling places. The old rule specified 25 feet.
"We received so many complaints about their aggressive posture," Abramson said.
To put this in perspective, he said that for anyone seeking to influence those voting at Charlotte Amalie High School, the 1,000-foot rule would put them by the entrance to Roy L. Schneider Hospital.
A law passed by the 24th Legislature and signed by the governor called for a cutoff of all campaigning at 2 a.m. on election days. A District Court challenge led to that law being voided last month.
Abramson said the boards acted within their rights in making this 1,000-foot decision.
At least one candidate disagrees. St. Croix Democratic senatorial hopeful Ronald E. Russell, who is running in Saturday's primary, said despite the rule, he plans to have his supporters closer to the polling place, although he didn't know how close they would get. In a letter to Abramson, he said the 1,000-foot decision "lacks constitutional basis."
"As you must be aware, a local regulation does not supersede a constitutional provision," Russell, a lawyer, wrote in the letter, which he faxed to the Source. He said he would file for a temporary restraining order if Abramson enforces the long-distance decision.
However, since Territorial Court is closed on Saturday, Russell said he would wait until Monday to take action. He said a campaign-free zone of 125 to 150 feet would be reasonable. "One thousand feet takes you out of the perimeter of being close to the polling place," he said.
Abramson said he plans to proceed as planned with the 1,000-foot no-campaigning zone.
Polling times and places
The polls will be open Saturday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Only registered party members will be able to vote, and only for the races within their respective parties. For a listing of races and candidates, see "Revised list of candidates for primary election".
In a departure from past primaries, when all of the polling places utilized in general elections were open, there will be three polling places each on St. Thomas and St. Croix, along with the usual two on St. John.
On St. Thomas, voting will be at:
Charlotte Amalie High School — for those who customarily vote at Winston Raymo Recreation Center, Oswald Harris Court, Joseph Sibilly School and CAHS.
Joseph Gomez Elementary School — for those who customarily vote at E. Benjamin Oliver, Ivanna Eudora Kean, Bertha C. Boschulte and Gomez Schools and the Anna's Retreat Center.
Addelita Cancryn Junior High School — for those who customarily vote at Dober, Michael J. Kirwan, Ulla F. Muller and Cancryn Schools.
On St. Croix, voting will be at:
Alexander Henderson Elementary School — for those who customarily vote at Claude O. Markoe, Evelyn Williams and Alexander Henderson Schools and St. Gerard's Hall.
Central High School — for those who customarily vote at Lew Muckle, Charles Emanuel, Eulalie Rivera, Ricardo Richards and Central High Schools.
Juanita Gardine Elementary School — for those who customarily vote at Florence Williams Library, Jackson Terrace, John F. Kennedy, and Elena Christian, Juanita Gardine and Pearl B. Larsen Schools.
On St. John, voting will be at Julius E. Sprauve and Guy Benjamin Schools.
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