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28-0019 Election Reform Law of 2009


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28-0019 Election Reform Law of 2009

  1. 1. COMMITTEE ON FINANCIAL SERVICES, INFRASTRUCTURE AND CONSUMER AFFAIRS BILL NO. 28-0019 Twenty-Eighth Legislature of the Virgin Islands March 12, 2009 An Act to enact the “Election Reform Law of 2009” PROPOSED BY: Senator Usie R. Richards, Shawn-Michael Malone and Nellie Riveria-O’Reilly Co-Sponsors: Carlton “Ital” Dowe and Celestino A. White, Sr. 1 Be it enacted by the Legislature of the Virgin Islands: 2 SECTION 1. Title 18 V.I.C., is amended in the following instances: 3 (a) Section 1 is amended in the following instances: 4 (1) insert the following new definition between the definitions of “primary” 5 and “public office”: 6 “Provisional Ballot” means a special instrument upon which the voter’s 7 choices are recorded. This ballot is subject to or dependent upon a post-election 8 verification or confirmation of the voter’s right to have voted on Election Day.”; 9 and 10 (2) insert the following new definition between the definition of “territorial 11 office” and “Voting machine”:
  2. 2. 2 1 “Vote” means to express one’s will, preference, or choice formally by 2 manifesting as a qualified elector, a decision upon any proposed measure or 3 selecting a representative for elected office.” 4 (b) Section 7, designate the existing language as subsection (a) and insert a new 5 subsection (b) to read: 6 “(b) It shall be prohibited for any member of the board of elections once they 7 have filed a nomination petition or nomination paper for an office, other than the board of 8 elections, to deliberate, debate, participate, vote or attend any activity of the board of 9 elections, whatsoever. 10 (c) Section 41, subsection (g), strike the phrase “$75 for Chairmen” and insert “$100 11 for the Chairman”. 12 (d) Section 47, subsection (12), after the word “budget” insert “, directly to the 13 Legislature, independent of the executive budget of the Governor”. 14 (e) Section 48, subsection (c), strike the phrase “$2.50 each per day as” and insert 15 “the standard prevailing witness fees”. 16 (f) Section 99 is amended in the following instances: 17 (1) in subsection (c), first sentence, strike the word “suitable”; 18 (2) in subsection (c), second sentence, strike the word “binders” and insert 19 “methods” and strike the phrase , “which shall be capable of being locked”; 20 (3) in subsection (c), strike the third sentence in its entirety and insert “his 21 information may be filed, indexed and stored electronically”; and 22 (4) insert a new subsection (d) to read: 23 “(d) The Supervisor of Elections shall develop and implement a uniform and 24 nondiscriminatory primary, official, centralized, interactive computerized territorial voter 25 registration list defined, maintained and administered at the territorial level. The list must 26 include the following:
  3. 3. 3 1 (i) The computer list shall serve as the single system for storing and 2 managing the official list of registered voters throughout the territory; 3 (ii) The computerized list shall contain the name and registration 4 information of every registered voter in the territory; 5 (iii) Under the computerized list, a unique identifier is assigned to each 6 legally registered voter in the territory; 7 (iv) The computerized list shall be coordinated with other databases in 8 the territory, including the Department of Health and Federal Social Security 9 records; and 10 (v) The computerized list shall serve as the official voter registration 11 list for the conduct of all elections, Federal and local elections”. 12 (g) Section 104, insert the following sentence at the end thereof “The general register 13 may be compiled in an electronic format”. 14 (h) In §105, insert a new subsection (c) to read: 15 “(c) The district register may be compiled in an electronic format”. 16 (i) In §109, insert a new subsection (f) to read: 17 “(f) Pursuant to the Help America Vote Act of 2002, P.L. 107-252 §251, the 18 Supervisor of Elections shall make specific arrangements with the Police Department and 19 the Commissioner of Social Security or his designee on the verification of applicable 20 information.”. 21 (j) In §152, insert a new subsection (c) to read: 22 “(c) The boards of elections may appoint special election officers and clerks to 23 assist in the conduct of registration and elections”. 24 (k) Section 419, second sentence, strike the phrase “by mail to each of the candidates 25 and”.
  4. 4. 4 1 (l) In §523, insert a new subsection (11) to read: 2 “(11) It is accessible for persons with disabilities, including persons who are 3 blind or have low vision”. 4 (m) Section 624, first sentence, strike the phrase “the inspectors of election” and insert 5 “the Board of Elections” and strike the second sentence in its entirety. 6 (n) Section 761, strike the sum “$500” and insert “$1,000”. 7 (o) Section 764, strike the sum “$500” and insert “$1,000”. 8 (p) Section 781, strike the sum “$50” and insert “$5,000”. 9 SECTION 2. These amendments shall become effective on January 1, 2010. 10 11 BILL SUMMARY 12 This bill makes numerous changes to the Virgin Islands Code as it relates to the overall 13 election process. In general, this bill amends sections of the Virgin Islands Code pertaining to 14 elections, the Board of Elections, the registration of electors, election officers, dates of elections 15 and primaries, qualifications of electors, nomination of candidates, ballots and ballot boxes, the 16 electronic voting system, canvassing of ballots, absentee voting and the related offenses and 17 penalties. Section 1 of the bill amends 18 V.I.C. in the following subsections: 18 (a) Amends §1 by inserting definitions for “provisional ballot” and “vote”; 19 (b) Amends §7 by inserting a new subsection (b) which prohibits any member of the 20 board of elections, who has filed a nomination petition for any other office from voting or 21 attending any activity of the board of elections. In addition, subsection (b) provides that all 22 candidates in any general, primary or special election shall be recognized and seated by the party 23 affiliation filed with the Supervisor of Elections. 24 (c) Amends §41(g) by increasing the stipend for the Chairman of the board of 25 election from $75 to $100 for each day or part thereof spent in the performance of his official 26 duties on election days. 27 (d) Amends §47(12) by requiring the annual reports of the board to also be
  5. 5. 5 1 transmitted to the Legislature. 2 (e) Amends §48(c) by providing for witnesses subpoenaed by the board to be paid the 3 ‘standard prevailing witness fees’ per day for their attendance. 4 (f) Amends §99 as it relates to registrations cards. This amendment negates the 5 usage of “binders” by the board and makes provisions for storing information electronically. 6 Additionally, this amendment mandates the Supervisor of Elections to develop and implement a 7 computerized voter registration list and sets out the information to be included in the list. 8 (g) & (h) amend §§104 and 105 by providing that both the general and district 9 registers may be compiled electronically. 10 (i) Amends §109 by mandating the Supervisor of Elections to coordinate with the 11 Police Department and the Commissioner of Social Security to verify information as it relates to 12 reports of change of voter status. 13 (j) Amends §152 by allowing the boards of elections to appoint special election 14 officers and clerks to assist in the registration and election process. 15 (k) Amends §419 and negates the requirement for the Supervisor of Elections to notify 16 candidates by mail of the date for the casting of lots and leaves only the requirement of 17 notification by publication in the local newspapers. 18 (l) Amends §523 by providing that provisions for persons with disabilities shall be 19 made to any electronic voting system. 20 (m) Amends §624 by providing that decisions concerning the validity of ballots and 21 counts shall be made by the Board instead of inspectors. 22 (n) Amends §761 by increasing the penalty for disobeying a subpoena from $500 to 23 $1,000. 24 (o) Amends §764 by increasing the penalty for wrongful registration from $500 to 25 $1,000.
  6. 6. 6 1 (p) Amends §781 by increasing the penalty for any employer refusing to allow an 2 employee time off to vote from $50 to $5,000. 3 4 5 6 BR09-0259/February 4, 2009/PFA