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The Recent Decision to Open More Polling Places

Dear Source:
This is in response to the vote at the Board of Elections last week. I would like to thank all the politicians, Democrat leaders and individuals who sent in letters or signed the petition for the STT/STJ Board of Elections to readdress and reversed the previous vote to not open all polling sites in the STT/STJ District. Although all polls will now be opened, I would like to take this opportunity to share facts, which lead to the August 9th vote. The Board next scheduled meeting was to take place on August 24, 2006 due to the fact that many of the Board members were out of the Territory. However, because of extreme pressure from some in the community, the Board met with the minimum requirement for a quorum. Although, I maintained my original vote of "no," three of the Board members voted yes, to open all the polls. The change in vote was not because of political pressure (?) or the threatened lawsuit, but rather due to the number 480 (less than 2.9% of the register primary voters) of individuals that signed a petition to have all polls opened. While I do acknowledge that a unique number of people signed the petition, my preference would have been to only open one more poll (Coral Bay) especially since the breakdown of the 480 individuals that signed the petition equates to less than 2.9 percent of registered primary voters.
There are an estimated 17,000 qualified registered primary voters (about 15,200 Democrats, about 900 Republicans, and about 900 ICM); however, the question remains open as to how many of the 480 are actually registered primary voters? How many of this 480 total are register voters (26,728)? How many are even register to vote? Nonetheless, in this case the old saying that "the squeaky wheel gets the oil" holds true.
The issue of the number of polls to be open was based on past trends and the number of those that actually come out in primary elections.
The Board felt it was our fiscal responsibility to open only enough polls to accommodate the projected number of voters that would actually come out to vote; based on past turnouts. I am the first to admit that there is no need to cry over spilled milk; however, my position for not opening all the polls remains the same. By not opening all the polls in the STT/STJ District could have saved at least $10,000 to $20,000. My stance stems from the fact if we are to believe our elected officials, that we must all be fiscally responsible; yet, when the Board decided to cut cost by reducing polls, the Board is pressured to open all the polls despite statistical evidence that only a small number of voters would come out to vote. It appears that this fiscal responsibility is selective. In some cases, we should be responsible and in other cases it is perfectly acceptable to be fiscally irresponsible. An example is a quote stated by Ariel Melchoir Jr in his editorial Saturday August 12 2006 "While it is understandable that members would like to save the taxpayers money, this is one instance that making it easier for residents to exercise their vote should take precedence."
Yes, it is true that the Board should ensure that all voters are given the opportunity to vote and the STT/STJ Board has always been in favor of this. However, what was not made known during this firestorm of how many polls to open was the fact that of the approximately 60,000 citizens in the St. Thomas/St. John District, there are only approximately 26,728 registered voters. Out of the 26,728 registered voters about 17,000 are registered to vote (Republicans, Democrats and ICM) on September 9, 2006. Of those registered (primary) voters less than 50% actually take the time to come out to vote.
I would suggest that the opening all the polls for such a small groups of voters in hopes that every registered voter would suddenly come out to vote in the September primary election is optimistically over-ambitious. Being a Board member and one that continuously promotes and holds voter registration (out side the Election Office) so that every citizen can exercise their right to vote, I would like nothing more than to have every registered voter to come out to vote. I hope the opening of the additional polls will not be a waste of funds and the decision to open all polls is a good one.
To Mr. Ariel Melchior, Jr. and the Senate President (Who is a Lt. Governor candidate for the Democrat ticket) there are so many problems and government services that are not being provided to our citizens due to the lack of resources and many of those programs benefit all of the citizens, not just a few. Given that fact, I wonder at what point will enough be enough? When will the day come when leaders will actually be fiscally responsible? For now it appears, it will again be tomorrow. Anyone who would like to vote early since, the political pundits estimate a record turnout and long lines you can vote up to 14 days before the primary Election on September 9, 2006. Please call 774-3107 for more information.
Lawrence Boschulte
St. Thomas

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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