The delays in counting votes and the trouble handling party symbol votes that plagued the 2014 election will repeat themselves in 2016, unless the Legislature acts or a lawsuit is filed and won in the next several months, elections officials told the V.I. Legislature this week. The Legislature met as the Committee of the Whole on Tuesday evening to hear from elections officials. The territory purchased new vote tabulating machines after Adelbert Bryan, who was at the time the St. Croix Elections Board chairman, waged a campaign to get rid of the territory’s previous machines, alleging, without evidence, possible widespread conspiracies to rig the territory’s elections and making numerous dubious claims about the old machines. In a test run shortly before the general election in 2014, the brand new ES&S ballot tabulators counted votes in a surprising way, due to the unique V.I. electoral system where senators vie to be the top seven vote-getters in their district.
If, for example, a voter selected the Democratic Party symbol and then selected an independent senatorial candidate, the independent senator’s vote would be recorded, but the votes for all seven of the Democratic senators would be voided. And the machine does not reject the ballot, but accepts it as though nothing is wrong.
To avoid this conflict with the territory’s party symbol voting law, the Joint Board of Elections instituted procedures to have elections officials separate out party-symbol votes and resolve cross-party voting conflicts by hand. The V.I. Supreme Court issued an opinion acknowledging the machine counts votes improperly, but saying voters must be allowed to run ballots through the tabulators to check for over- or under-voting.
At present, the tabulators will still count the votes wrong and the territory will still have to count the ballots all by hand, unless the V.I. Legislature either changes the party symbol voting law or immediately finds a half a million dollars to write new programming for the machine, elections officials testified.
Full Article: 2014 Ballot Woes May Repeat in 2016 | St. Croix Source.