In a quick meeting Thursday, St. Thomas-St. John District Board of Elections members approved the consolidation of two polling sites for November’s general election. This time around, polls at Joseph Sibilly Elementary School will be merged with those at Charlotte Amalie High School on St. Thomas, while polls at Ivanna Eudora Kean High School will be merged with those at Bertha C. Boschulte Middle School.
“These consolidations have to do with ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance issues and the concerns that the federal government have had with our facilities,” according to Arturo Watlington Jr., board chairman.
The territory has been cited for accessibility issues in the past and Watlington explained Thursday that ramps at both Sibilly and Kean have been found to be “too high.”
He said that the consolidations would not affect the Election System’s operations at the polls, since the territory has switched to paper ballots. Watlington added that there should not be any complications and that there will be enough DS200 machines on hand to count the ballots.
He said meetings next week will focus on internal operations, including the selection of poll workers, and that early voting for the general election will move forward as planned on Oct. 22.
Opening the meeting Thursday was a discussion between the board and St. John write-in candidate Steven Payne, who requested that the system begin educating voters on the write-in process and allow his camp to review the ballots afterward.
“What we learned, especially from this issue with these matters involving former Sen. Alicia ‘Chucky’ Hansen, is that Mr. Payne doesn’t have any standing with the board because he is not a legitimate candidate,” Watlington said, referencing a recent back and forth between Hansen, Elections and the Attorney General’s Office about her ability to be included on the ballot.
“He wanted to review the ballots,” Watlington said. “That’s tantamount to a recall, and he’s not a legitimate or official candidate so he doesn’t have the standing to request anything from the board.”
Watlington said, “And he’s asking that the people running the election talk to voters about how they should write in a candidate; that’s not what Elections workers do.”