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Posted By Craig Barshinger

I'm here at the Elections office in St. Thomas. My purpose is to verify that walk-in absentee ballots are being processed properly and courteously.

I have spoken with Ms. Venzen who affirms that no challenge is made to those who request an absentee ballot.  I have observed two people voting by walk-in absentee. Both individuals simply filled out a form and were given a paper ballot. They took it to a secluded area where they filled out the paper ballot. They returned to the central hall and deposited their ballot through a slot in a large plywood box that is sealed with two deadbolts.

Additional voters have come and followed the same procedure.

I've asked a couple voters about their satisfaction. They are satisfied. I'm observing that the approximate time is less than 15 mins, start to finish. There is no waiting line.

 

From the elections office,

 

-Craig


 
Posted By Craig Barshinger

Responding to public concern over how we vote, Senator Neville James called a meeting of appropriate cmte on October 13. The Supervisor of Elections and the Board of Elections members were invited. John Abramson, Supervisor of Elections. No board members attended.

I attended in order to pursue my intent to allow Paper Ballot Early Voting (announced below in my Oct 2 blog post). I asked Mr. Abramson if the Elections Office could accommodate more walk-in absentee voters now than in the past. He said yes.

I asked him why the Elections Office required proof from the voter when the voter chose a reason to execute his/her vote by walk-in absentee in the 14 days prior to an election. He revealed, after discussion, that there was no statutory basis to require proof.

I took Mr. Abramson to task for the Elections System's penchant for scolding voters. Even when a voter is simply trying to exercise his/her choice in a neutral manner, the Election System has a habit of scolding the voter. This has the effect of lowering voter confidence in the Election System.

I then asked him, "Would allowing walk-in absentees to vote without challenge impair the accuracy and fairness of the vote tally in any way?" He said No.

After a lunch break, Mr. Abramson reported that he had spoken with the Board of Elections members, and they had decided that there would no longer be any challenge whatsoever to voters wishing to vote on paper by a walk-in absentee ballot.

The voter need only choose one of the nine reasons specified in the law, and affirm by signature that this is his/her reason.

Every voter who wants to vote on paper ballot can do so. I was very pleased to be able to create the same effect as my "EARLY VOTING" legislation by reasoned conversation on the floor of the Legislative Chambers.

[see part 2 for conclusion]


 
Posted By Craig Barshinger

[This is part 2, the conclusion of the previous post]

While I will still pursue the Early Voting legislation in November, I think that essence of the job was done that day.

Please enjoy a Paper Ballot, and avoid standing in line on Election Day. Go to the Elections office on STX, STT, or STJ in from now until Nov. 2 to cast on the spot your walk-in absentee ballot!

And please remember to vote Craig W. Barshinger, #4 on the ballot, for Senator-at-large!

Thank you for your continuing support,

-Craig

Footnote: Perhaps you asked yourself, "How could John Abramson make that decision by calling Board Members during lunch?" The answer is, he cannot. Such a policy decision needs to be called as an agenda item at a Board meeting, and acted upon officially. Nonetheless, I am confident that the formal treatment will be fulfilled, and my office will verify that is has been done so prior to November 2.


 
Posted By Craig Barshinger

As we gratefully accept nature's gift of abundant water for our cisterns, we must be mindful of the need to engineer our roads such that they do not flood or wash out. An example of doing it right is the Frydenhoj area where Dept of Public Works under Commissioner Phillips finally fixed the flooding problem that persisted for years. On St. Croix, a major solution was engineered for Mon Bijou.

 

Examples of incorrectly engineered roads are the Brookman Rd on STT and the Williams Delight area on STX. I applaud Public Works' new policy of engineering the flow of water first, then paving. It serves little purpose to place asphalt over an unstable base.

 

Please travel with care and do not cross flowing water if you don't know how deep it is. You can always reverse and take another route to your destination.

 

Please email my office with area where you observe flooding. Take a photo with your cell phone or digital camera. My staff will make sure that Dept of Public Works is notified of the problem area. The email is senator @ barshinger .net.


 
Posted By Craig Barshinger

Paper ballots are hot in the news. I am proposing legislation that may answer the need that has been voiced. Here's a Press Release from Friday, October 2 (yesterday):

 

Desire for Paper Ballots Prompts Legislation

In response to public concern over voting procedures, Senator Barshinger today submitted a drafting request to establish voting by paper ballot in the five days prior to an election. To be known as "early voting", this would allow any voter the right to vote on a paper ballot, without having to provide a reason for voting early. Presently the election system allows "walk-in absentee voting", but voters are required to state one of nine reasons to justify their request. For example, travel is a qualifying reason. Having religious convictions that conflict with election day voting is another qualifying reason.

"Voters should not have to give a reason to vote early on a paper ballot," explained Senator-at-large Craig Barshinger, "An election system should give voters maximum options, not restrict them."

Senators Barshinger, Hill & Sprauve met Friday with members of the Elections Board, Elections system staff, and attorney general Vincent Frazer to address the public concern over paper ballots and the election system in general. One of the outcomes was a pledge by the election system to improve communications with the public.

In the Legislative Session of September 20-22, Legal counsel explained that there is a 6-month blackout period prior to an election, during which the legislature may not alter the laws affecting the election. This is to ensure stability of the election system.

"I will introduce the legislation guaranteeing the right to early voting on a paper ballot on November 3, when the window opens for election system changes", concluded Senator Barshinger.

end


 

 

 
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