The Virgin Islands Police Department will keep an eye on Tuesday’s general election, according to Police Commissioner Rodney Querrard Jr.
In a statement issued Monday, the commissioner said the department has "action plans” for each district, with detailed scheduling of officers assigned at the polling places as well as other locations deemed necessary.
In addition to personnel at each one of the polling stations, the chiefs and deputy chiefs of police in each district, along with assigned supervisors, will inspect all of the locations throughout the day and evening to ensure sufficient coverage, Querrard said.
"Being this is a general election and, as the past has shown, there is normally a larger turnout of voters at these elections, we have increased our coverage at all of the polling places so all who are taking part in this important occasion can do so peacefully and timely," he said.
The commissioner called on Virgin Islanders to exercise their civic responsibility and vote, but to do so in a civil manner.
"I am asking everyone planning to exercise their right to vote to do so peacefully and without interruption," he said. "If anyone has a question about the process while at the polling location, please ask for assistance from one of the designated assistors. These individuals are always willing to help to ensure that your votes count."
The department also will have personnel the Board of Election throughout the process, he added.
"I am asking everyone to do your part in ensuring a peaceful process for all and to notify any law enforcement officer of anything that appears to be out of the ordinary," Querrard said. "I am also advising the public that our traffic officers will be monitoring for drivers who are operating a vehicle on our roadways while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.”
“We realize there will be those who may want to celebrate at the conclusion of the election,” he said, “but if you plan to drive, don’t drink, and if you plan to drink, make sure and have a designated driver or call a cab. The life you save may be your own, or a family, friend or loved one."
Meanwhile the U.S. Department of Justice advised residents that it would respond to complaints of voter harassment and voting irregularities.
In a statement issued Monday, the federal department said its Civil Rights Division staff members would be available by telephone to receive complaints from citizens in all states and jurisdictions nationwide related to possible violations of the voting rights laws. The staffers can be reached toll free by calling 1-800-253-3931 or calling 1-202-307-2767. Individuals can also also report such complaints by sending email to email@example.com or by a complaint form on the department’s website: www.justice.gov/crt/about/vot/.
Allegations of election fraud are handled by the 94 U.S. Attorney’s Offices across the country, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section, the news release said. Complaints related to election fraud can be directed to the U.S. Attorney’s Office on St. Thomas or at the local FBI office.
Complaints related to violence, threats of violence or intimidation at a polling place should always be reported immediately to local police authorities by calling 911, the statement from Justice said.
Although state and local governments have primary responsibility for administering elections, the Civil Rights Division is charged with enforcing the federal voting rights laws that protect the rights of all eligible citizens to cast ballots on Election Day.
The Voting Rights Act prohibits discrimination in the election process on the basis of race, color or membership in a minority language group.
More information about the Voting Rights Act and other federal voting and election-related laws is available on the Civil Rights Division’s web site at www.justice.gov/crt/about/vot/.