ELECTIONS SYSTEM: No Money Is Appropriated for August 4 Primary Elections
CHARLOTTE AMALIE — The Elections System of the Virgin Islands says it is broke and will have to postpone early primary voting until July 14.
Early voting was scheduled to begin July 10 but in an internal memorandum obtained by the V.I. Free Press Elections Supervisor Caroline Fawkes said “we cannot afford to add any additional days.”
“Due to unforeseen circumstances (late approval, funding, etc), we are going to postpone Early Voting to Saturday, July 14th – Wednesday, July 25th,” Fawkes said. “We will extend the times from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. We can’t extend the staff anymore, they have worked extended registration hours and now extended Early Voting Hours. The early voting secure files must be transmitted to ESS by an established date, therefore, we can’t afford to add any additional days. Absentee Voting is also available.”
In the official press release issued this afternoon, Fawkes said the “2018 Primary Election Early Voting will be postponed due to unforeseen circumstances” and listed the places where people can go to vote: the St. Croix Elections Office – Sunny Isles Annex, Unit 4; the St. Thomas Elections Office – Lockhart Gardens (Upstairs Banco Popular) and the St. John Elections Office – Market Place Suite II.
Fawkes told Election board members that she confirmed with the Office of Management and Budget on Thursday that “there is no primary funding appropriated, still awaiting the governor’s signature on the bill.”
“We haven’t received our fourth quarter allotment either, therefore, we have no funding at this time,” Fawkes wrote. “Due to two days being a holiday this week, we usually received the allotments by the 6th – 10th of the month. For these many reasons, it’s in our best interest to postpone Early Voting.”
At least one Elections Board member, Raymond Williams of St. Croix, said he was “disappointed” by Fawkes’ “management priorities.”
“This is absolute nonsense! I knew this was going to happen,” Williams wrote. “This happened last election cycle as well. The reasons stated should have been factored into the planning prior to giving us a date specific for early voting. We are now, yet again, going to look like a bunch of idiots after continuously advertising the start date of July 10th. I am summarily disappointed for how dysfunctional and fractionalized this Board is, thereby, allowing you to do and get away with this type of behavior.
Williams said Fawkes should have reached out to Gov. Kenneth Mapp to get the funding fast-tracked.
“Why didn’t you take the opportunity to reach out personally to the governor with regard to his approval of the funds?” Williams wrote. “Why was ES&S not provided with specific deadlines as to when we needed the ballots, also why didn’t you consult with us prior to making this change?! I spoke to (Business Development Manager Elections System & Software) Mr. (Willie) Wesley yesterday because I figured one of the excuses would be that we did not have the ballots. Interestingly enough, he did not get back to me with what I requested — how strange. Mrs. Fawkes, I recognize that your priorities are obviously skewed and I really question your management priorities. I’m so damn
Fawkes said that the Elections System will issue a press release today advising the public of some of the issues she shared with them Thursday.
“I’m presently still working with ESS on the ballots review, this evening,” she said. “I just sent back requesting one ballot that was missing from the stack. Once reviewed and approved, it then goes to the Printing Department. They review the quantities for correct packaging and then they are printed. Last stage is shipping, they will package and determine the method of shipping, etc. I’ve requested expedited shipping.”