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Wednesday, November 29, 2023
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He Also Wants to Change the Primary System

Dear Source:

I read with interest, Mr. J.J. Estemac's article on how Primaries are run. It certainly would be more productive and truly representative of our citizens' choices if all registered voters were allowed to participate in the Primary process.
I am registered as "no-party" but would certainly want to vote in a primary if there was a viable candidate of any party running. As it is now, if a citizen wanted to vote for a candidate of any party, he or she must first change affiliation at the Board of Elections and then, if he or she so chooses, change back again after the Primary was over. This is cumbersome and requires a lot of unnecessary paperwork for the Board of Elections.
When I lived in Massachusetts, I was an independent ("no-party" affiliation does not exist) voter. However, I was allowed to vote in the Primary for any candidate I chose very simply. I went to the designated polling place for my district, they found my name on the list of registered voters and I was asked what affiliation I chose for that Primary. I made the choice, either Democrat, Republican or Independent and voted based upon that slate. When I finished my ballot, I went to another desk and changed my affiliation back to Independent. I could have continued as the party I chose but it was not required of me. Two people were required in order to do this. A simple checkmark on party affiliation was made, I voted and the second person, who had the same list, either changed me back or kept the affiliation chosen or even allowed me to change to any other party I chose-right there in the voting place. The whole process took minutes. At the end of the primary, lists were compared and anyone changing or keeping a party affiliation was kept on the Election Commission's books as requested. That's it! Easy and non-invasive.
Now, could this happen in the Virgin Islands? Of course, it wont matter what your election card says, the selection at the polling place will determine you affiliation. If you choose to continue being a no-party, just do it. If you choose to change parties, its easy! Yes, it will mean the Board of Election has to process your name with an affiliation but how hard could that be? They have to check and recheck anyway, so why would it be difficult?
Why is this an important change? The answer is simple: IT WILL ALLOW MORE PEOPLE TO VOTE! Perhaps the reason we are not getting many people to vote at Primaries is because they are not allowed to under current Board of Elections rules! (Not open all the polling places-what?)
It certainly would be easier on the Board if they didn't have to re-issue costly voter cards to every voter who wanted to change affiliations before a primary and then change them back again-you would simply be on the books!
Mr. Estemac, you are right. It seems that party politics may be behind the way the Board of Election's are structured and the regulations governing them. Maybe we need change. Please keep your dialog going as I, like many other registered voters would like to involved in voting whether it be Primaries or General Elections.

Paul Devine
St John

Editor's note: We welcome and encourage readers to keep the dialogue going by responding to Source commentary. Letters should be e-mailed with name and place of residence to source@viaccess.net.

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