With the V.I. Elections System finally certifying results of the election held 11 days ago, outgoing Senator at Large Craig Barshinger said Saturday he will introduce a bill to replace the newly purchased voting equipment and ensure that voters can have faith in the process.
In a letter to his Senate colleagues, Barshinger – who did not seek re-election and will leave office in January – said he had already sent a copy of his proposed bill to the other senators.
Barshinger said he hoped said he hoped his colleagues would sidetrack the committee process and send the measure directly to the full Senate.
"Let’s keep this bill simple and clean, showing the public that we know there’s a problem and are willing to fix it," he said in his letter.
According to Barshinger, his measure would "get rid of the scanners and purchase machines that prevent spoilage, allow same-day tabulation of results, and produce a paper ballot (for recounts). We cannot wait. The entire two year cycle will be needed to fix the mess that exists currently."
The DS 200 vote tabulation system used in this general election was purchased to replace a system that had been in use since the 1980s. It promised to be faster, more reliable and create a paper trail to ensure the outcome accurately reflects the actual vote.
The DS200s were supposed to allow voters to scan their ballots directly into the system, but because of issues in how ballots were marked when selecting a straight-party ticket, the Elections Systems decided to store the ballots in the machines and scan them after the voting was complete. In cases where ballots were "spoiled" and could not be scanned, Elections officers remade the ballots, creating more room for doubts about the validity of the vote. The process took far longer than anticipated, with the vote finally being certified Saturday, 11 days after the Nov. 4 general election.
In a ruling Friday, the V.I. Supreme Court held that V.I. voters have a right to scan their own ballots. The Joint Board of Elections had already decided to allow the practice for the runoff, because the straight-party ticket issue does not apply.