July 18, 2003 – The V.I. Boards of Elections will conduct three public hearings at the end of this month to discuss the territory's plan for implementing the federal Help America Vote Act of 2002.
The plan's main areas of emphasis are on:
– Providing polling-place access for voters with physical disabilities.
– Improving voter identification and eligibility verification at the polling place.
– Recruiting and training election officials, board members, poll workers, technicians and election staff.
– Conducting pilot programs to test new equipment and technologies.
– Expanding voter education and outreach.
The purpose of the hearings is for the public to comment on the plan before it is submitted in compliance with a national mandate. "We wanted to get some input from local residents," John Abramson Jr., supervisor of elections, said.
The hearings are scheduled for 6 p.m. July 29 at the Curriculum Center on St. Croix; at 6 p.m. July 30 in the Legislature Building on St. John; and 6 p.m. July 31 at Palms Court Harborview Hotel on St. Thomas.
Prior to the hearings, "people can pick the plan up and read it," Corrine Plaskett, deputy supervisor of elections, said. Copies can be found at the Supervisor of Elections Office, the Legislature, Territorial Court, the offices of the island administrators, and public libraries.
The Boards of Elections will add feedback at the hearing to the plan. "We will be incorporating information into the plan, and then we will make our submission to the federal government in August," Abramson said.
The draft plan is the work of a committee composed of six members from each district. "This committee put together the programs and ideas," Abramson said. "We started the process in February."
Sen. Shawn-Michael Malone sponsored a bill creating a new V.I. Election Fund to receive federal funds appropriated by Congress for the implementing of the Help America Vote Act. The Senate passed the measure on June 18, and Gov. Charles W. Turnbull signed it into law on Monday.
"This legislation puts the territory in a position to gain access to $4 million," a release from Malone's office stated. "This is also another opportunity to help us fund some of the necessary reforms to our election system that otherwise could not be implemented due to lack of finances."
Abramson said it was necessary to create the new fund so as "to be able to accept electronic transfers."
Publisher's note : Like the St. Thomas Source now? Find out how you can love us twice as much — and show your support for the islands' free and independent news voice … click here.