The St. Croix Board of Elections continued throughout the weekend to count paper ballots from Tuesday’s General Election. The board put in 19 hours beginning Friday and continuing Saturday and Sunday. They counted close to 2,000 paper ballots that left little changes from the initial results of the Senate races after electronic votes were tallied Tuesday night. According to the unofficial results, which includes tallies from 13 of 14 precincts, the paper ballot votes widened the gap between some of the candidates and narrowed the gap between others, but the positioning stayed the same.
Newcomer Jamila Russell received the most votes from the paper ballots. She boosted her overall vote count from 1,837 to 2,577 with only one more precinct to go, but it was not enough to move into one of the seven Senate seats from St. Croix.
About a dozen candidates and other representatives sat attentively at the board’s offices throughout the weekend as chairman Rupert Ross and member Raymond Williams took turns reading off votes from the paper ballots that were tallied by precinct.
Aware of the high level of scrutiny of the board’s activity, both men held the paper ballots out and elevated so that those sitting behind them could verify the votes that were called out. They also fielded inquiries from the spectators about the many spoiled ballots.
During the count that began Friday, Williams and Ross both came across ballots that were determined to be spoiled. Because the Democrat and Republican symbols represented the seven candidates of those political parties, voters who checked off any additional Legislature candidtes spoiled their ballots.
The ICM party had four candidates, so voters could only vote for an additional three and if they exceeded that number, the ballot was determined spoiled, according to Williams.
Other ballots were determined to be spoiled because the voter had shaded or placed a check mark or “x” in more than seven slots for senator or had a combination of more than seven candidates checked and written in on the ballot.
Approximately 15 percent of the total paper ballots were determined spoiled.