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Virgin Islands Police Department Commissioner Rodney F. Querrard, Sr., issued a statement Monday night making known that, just as the VIPD has done in previous elections, “Action Plans” have been completed for all districts for the 2014 Nov. 4 General Election, which entails “detailed scheduling” for all officers assigned to the election. The Department is also urging voters to keep calm at the polls, and has revealed it will keep a watchful eye for motorists driving under the influence of alcohol.
“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,” Querrard said. “I am asking everyone planning to exercise their right to vote to do so peacefully, and without interruption.”
Querrard added that voters with questions should direct them to designated assistors, who he says are “always willing to help to ensure that your votes count.”
The Commissioner went on to say that while voters whose candidates have won will undoubtedly be in a celebratory mood, they should refrain from drinking and driving. He said Traffic Officers have been advised to monitor the roadways with vigilance.
“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, 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,” Querrard concluded.
Querrard’s comments regarding voting in a “timely” fashion falls in line with a recent Joint Boards of Elections demand that police officers enforce a Virgin Islands law that permits no more than five minutes for a voter to cast his or her ballot.
The law states in 18 VIC 584 (g) that: “No elector shall remain in the voting booth for more than five minutes. If the elector requests a longer period of time, an election officer shall grant him a longer period of time, at his discretion, not to exceed five minutes. If the elector refuses to leave the voting booth after such additional time has been granted, the election official shall summon a police officer who shall remove the elector.”
However, the law does not prevent voters from peacefully standing outside the booth after voting.
An online campaign launched on Oct. 31 by the VI Action Group encouraged voters to demand they be able to feed their own ballots into the DS200 tabulator, a function that will be the responsibility of designated elections officials. According to Joint Boards members, the DS200 is not properly tabulating ballots marked with Straight Party symbols.
In an emailed statement sent to local media outlets and circulated via social media, the group claims the Joint Board’s decision not to allow voters “to scan their ballots right at the moment of casting ones vote is a manufactured crisis being orchestrated by Arturo Watlington, Jr. chairman of the St.Thomas-St.John district board and the VI Attorney General’s office. There is nothing wrong with the functionality of the DS200 voting machine nor are there any malicious malfunctions or programs at play.”
The statement went on to say that “voters must demand that their ballots are scanned right at the moment of casting their vote. Public pressure is the best tool at this point to force the Election Boards and the VI Attorney General’s office to change course.”
ES&S, makers of the DS200 machines, say they stand by the machines’ functionality.
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