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Sunday, October 2, 2022
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Elections Board Hoping to Bolster Faith in Voting Machines

St. Croix Board of Elections members Jacqueline Heyliger, Chairman Raymond Williams, Carmen Golden and Rupert Ross at Monday's meeting.Hoping to forestall a flood of paper ballot requests in November, the St. Croix Board of Elections decided unanimously to have Chairman Raymond Williams work with elections officials to arrange a public service video showing how voting machines are certified.
The question arose in the wake of lawsuits filed by former Sen. Adelbert Bryan in U.S. District and V.I. Superior courts claiming voters must be given an opportunity to use paper ballots and asking for injunctions forcing the election system to accommodate their use.
He argued in court and over the V.I. radio airwaves that the type of voting machine used in the territory may be subject to political manipulation and has no voter-verified paper trail. Bryan is correct that they do not produce a voter-verified paper trail but instead merely print out the electronic record after the fact. His suggestion that results may be tampered with does not seem to be supported by any independent evidence.
Both lawsuits were rapidly dismissed by the respective federal and territorial judges as lacking in factual and legal merit.
V.I. Elections Supervisor John Abramson also told a recent meeting of the St. Croix Elections Board that provisional ballots may only be given under a few, specific conditions having to do with lack of identification or confusion over whether the voter is eligible or in the correct polling place. Those conditions are set by V.I. law and cannot be waived or changed by the board, he said.
Twenty-seven states do require a voter-verified paper trail. Doing so in the territory would require purchasing several million dollars’ worth of new machines to replace all of the fully functional voting machines currently in use, Williams said at a previous board meeting.
"Just to be clear, this is about creating a video for educational purposes?" asked board member Rupert Ross.
Williams said, "Yes," the video would be for demonstration and educational purposes and could perhaps be done Oct. 23 when the elections board begins certifying machines for the November general election.
The board also authorized Williams to pursue a similar video explaining what a provisional ballot is for, when it is appropriate to ask for one, and how to use it. In the wake of Bryan’s lawsuits and radio appearances, a number of voters tried to insist upon using provisional ballots during party primaries earlier this month.
"I think to clearly explain what a provisional ballot is and when it is used would be in our best interest," said board member Rupert Ross.
This is the last week to register, re-register or change information on your voter enrollment, so the board voted to have the St. Croix Elections Office in Sunny Isles stay open late Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
On Saturday, the very last day for registering, the Board of Elections and Elections Office is throwing what they are calling a Voter Expo, registering voters from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The U.S. Passport Office will have a representative there, so residents can take the opportunity to renew their passport while they take care of their voter registration. Representatives from the Disability Rights Center of the Virgin Islands, AARP and United Way will be there too, Williams said.
Present at the meeting were Ross, Williams, board members Carmen Golden, Jacqueline Heyliger, Dodson James and Lisa Moorhead. Ana Davila was absent.

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