US Virgin Islands: Judge issues arrest warrant for supervisor of Elections | Virgin Islands Daily News

V.I. Superior Court Judge Harold Willocks has issued a warrant for the arrest of Elections Supervisor Caroline Fawkes, after she failed to appear Monday at a court hearing for which she had been subpoenaed to offer testimony and provide documents to the court. The hearing stems from the V.I. Superior Court case in which Sen. Nereida Rivera-O’Reilly has challenged the St. Croix Elections Board’s recount of votes cast for Sen. Alicia Hansen, calling the entire process illegal. Calls made by The Daily News to Fawkes’ cellphone on Monday went unanswered. In a brief hearing last week in the case, Fawkes had been given a subpoena to come to court Monday and to bring documents, including Joint Board of Elections motion sheets and attendance records for certain dates pertaining to the General Election.

US Virgin Islands: St. Croix recount will resume today | Virgin Islands Daily News

The St. Croix District Board of Elections is expected to resume its recounting efforts today after V.I. Superior Court Judge Harold Willocks issued an order Monday prohibiting them from proceeding with the recount while barring members of the media or public from observing the count. Following a hearing Monday, Willocks found that the board members were wrong in their interpretation of the law and issued an order from the bench granting The Daily News’ request for the court to issue a restraining order and permanent injunction. He ordered the board to accommodate the public for the recount. On Tuesday afternoon, Daily News legal counsel Semaj Johnson met with Elections Supervisor Caroline Fawkes and Assistant Attorney General Angela Polk, who is representing the board. They did a walk through of how they expected the recount areas would be set up for public accessibility today when the recount resumes at 10 a.m. The conference room at the Elections System Office in Sunny Isle Annex is being used and is set up similarly to how it was set up during the ballot counts in the days that followed November’s General Election.

US Virgin Islands: Judge grants restraining order forcing Elections Board to let public watch recount | Virgin Islands Daily News

A judge on Monday granted a temporary restraining order and an injunction requested by The Virgin Islands Daily News and ordered the St. Croix Board of Elections to allow public access to the recount process. Elections Supervisor Caroline Fawkes said Monday afternoon that the board will get whatever measures are necessary to accommodate the public in place before resuming the recount. A press release will be issued to notify the public when the recount will continue, she said. The Daily News on Friday filed a complaint in V.I. Superior Court, petitioning the court for the temporary restraining order and emergency injunctive relief, after the St. Croix Board of Elections on Thursday booted the public and the media out of the conference room where a recount of votes for certain candidates was starting.

US Virgin Islands: Counting comes to an end in time for runoff | Virgin Islands Daily News

With the certification of the 2014 General Election accomplished in both districts on Saturday, the V.I. Elections System received the final numbers in each of last week’s races, which will require a runoff election in the gubernatorial race that has been scheduled for Tuesday. Voters across the territory went to the polls Nov. 4 and cast votes for senators, delegate to Congress and members of their district boards of elections, and they also were tasked with selecting from among five candidate teams who they wanted as the next governor and lieutenant governor of the territory. By the end of the tabulations Saturday, the ticket of Kenneth Mapp and Osbert Potter had garnered more of the popular votes. However, they still had not received the 50 percent of the votes plus one that would make them an outright winner under local law.

US Virgin Islands: Early voting put on hold on St. Croix | Virgin Islands Daily News

With more than 400 ballots already cast early voting was suspended Sunday night in the wake of the V.I. Supreme Court re-affirming its decision that Sen. Alicia Hansen be removed from the ballot. According to a press release, Supervisor of Elections Caroline Fawkes made the decision to comply with the Supreme Court order. It is anyone’s guess when early voting will resume and what course of action the St. Croix District Board of Elections and the Supervisor of Elections will take to ensure that the ballots for the Nov. 4 General Election are in compliance with the order handed down Friday. As part of the opinion by the justices, Supervisor Caroline Fawkes has been ordered to immediately recall all General Election ballots with Hansen’s name and replace them with ballots omitting her as a candidate or in the alternative “remove Hansen’s name from the ballot, such as by covering her name with a sticker”, the opinion read.

US Virgin Islands: St. Thomas Elections Board finally officially certifies primary results | Virgin Islands Daily News

Uncertain of the legality of the board’s initial “certification” last week of the St. Thomas-St. John District primary election, the board certified the election again during a meeting Monday. Still, one board member, several candidates and several members of the public, at least, are questioning whether the election was legitimate – despite two rounds of certification. “Anything after the deadline makes it illegal,” said board member Wilma Marsh-Monsanto, the single board member present to abstain from voting to approve the official certification of the election on Monday. Board Chairman Arturo Watlington Jr., Vice-chairman Harry Daniel, Secretary Claudette Georges, member Lydia Hendricks and member Larry Boschulte were also present and voted to certify the election. The board initially convened in a special meeting Monday to ratify the original certification actions taken by the board, in which Daniel, Georges and Boschulte voted to certify the election a week ago, along with member Alecia Wells, who attended the meeting via teleconference and cast her vote via an electronic signature sent over a fax machine.

US Virgin Islands: Elections Board violates code, fails to certify results of primary on Sunday | Virgin Islands Daily News

The St. Thomas-St. John District Board of Elections failed to meet the legal deadline for certifying its primary election Sunday, putting it in violation of the V.I. Code. Unofficially, the certification has been put off until Monday, despite the potential consequences. Any person deemed responsible for the delay of the election returns is subject to a $500 maximum fine or a year of imprisonment, or both. Additionally, the “casting of lots” is not supposed to take place within a district unless the district has certified its election. Elections officials said that the casting of lots, which was scheduled for today at 5:30 p.m. in both districts, likely will be moved until late August, though they also said that the decision ultimately is up to V.I. Elections Supervisor Caroline Fawkes.

US Virgin Islands: Obama Administration: Citizenship not a fundamental right for Virgin Islanders |Virgin Islands Daily News

In a legal brief filed last week, the Obama administration took the position that citizenship is not a fundamental right of people born in unincorporated U.S. territories. The federal government maintains that Congress has the legislative discretion to grant privileges to those born in the territories as they see fit. The brief was filed in response to a lawsuit about citizenship rights for unincorporated territories that is pending before a federal appeals court. The lawsuit is Tuaua v. United States, and it is about American Samoa’s citizenship rights. While the situation in American Samoa is different than in the U.S. Virgin Islands, the outcome of the litigation could impact citizenship rights for Virgin Islands residents as well. The United States took ownership of the Virgin Islands in 1917, and citizenship was granted through an act of Congress in 1927. Congress has not made the same decision for American Samoa and residents born there are considered “non-citizen nationals.”

US Virgin Islands: Elections lags, fails to certify primary elections | Virgin Islands Daily News

Despite claims that the territory’s primary elections in both districts would be certified Tuesday, they were not. While both districts continued counting late into Tuesday night, V.I. Elections Supervisor Caroline Fawkes said that it was unlikely that the final results would be certified until today, or possibly later in the week. They also were not revealing numbers of all the walk-in, mail-in and provisional ballots at stake, nor were they revealing results, including those of several Senate candidates whose fates hang in the balance. The boards have until Aug. 17 to certify the elections. Last week, internal strife between St. Thomas-St. John Deputy Supervisor Nefredieza Barbel and district board Chairman Arturo Watlington Jr. marked the counting process in the St. Thomas-St. John office.

US Virgin Islands: St. Croix Elections Board recommends changes to early voting bill | Virgin Islands Daily News

During its regular meeting Wednesday, the St. Croix District Board of Elections voted to forward recommendations to the Senate and governor that they say will safeguard the rights of residents and make the process of early voting more efficient for the board. Board member Raymond Williams made a motion that was approved by the board to send recommendations to Gov. John deJongh Jr. on changes that should be included in the early voting bill, as requested by his office. Williams said current language in proposed changes to legislation are contradictory, and the members present agreed that at the next joint board meeting they also will recommend that the joint board forward additional suggestions to the chief legal counsel of the V.I. Legislature to review. The board agreed that they will discuss with the joint board the ability to recreate walk-in ballots in the event that a ballot is not readable by the machine. Williams said that would allow them to properly make selections when the intent of the voter is clear. Chairman Adelbert Bryan said the board is in the process of preparing to go before the Legislature for its annual budget hearing Aug. 19.

US Virgin Islands: Test data causes glitch in early vote counts | Virgin Islands Daily News

A former Elections official has raised questions about what appear to be discrepancies in unofficial vote counts that the V.I. Elections System posted at different times on Saturday evening as the results from the primary election were rolling in. However, a spokeswoman from the company that sold the V.I. Elections System the DS200 vote tabulating machines said there is a simple explanation for what occurred – and that the final unofficial tallies posted in the system from Saturday’s count are the correct ones. “The results are absolutely correct at this time,” said Kathy Rogers, a spokeswoman for Nebraska-based Election Systems & Software. Former V.I. Elections System Supervisor John Abramson Jr. raised the issue in a letter Monday to St. Croix Board of Elections Chairman Adelbert Bryan. Abramson seeks an explanation of “discrepancies,” in which a few candidates appear to lose votes that had already been counted. Bryan said Monday afternoon that he had not yet seen Abramson’s letter.

US Virgin Islands: Voters embrace new machines | Virgin Islands Daily News

The new approach to casting ballots seemed to be a hit with the territory’s voters during the primary election on Saturday. Voters, many of them for the first time, familiarized themselves with the DS 200, a product of Elections Systems and Software, or ES&S. The machine allows voters to fill in a paper ballot so that there is a lasting record of the vote, but it also has the speed and convenience of an electronic voting machine. “It was just inserting a paper,” said Courtney Reese, a voter at Charlotte Amalie High School poll location. “You didn’t really even interact with the machine. It was like scanning or faxing something.” The V.I. Elections System purchased the 43 machines from Elections Systems & Software for $646,480 in 2013, and since has been organizing public demonstrations of the machines and how they work. The machines have been certified by the Election Assistance Commission, which is not required under federal law but is required under Virgin Islands law.

US Virgin Islands: Court Puts Coffelt, Canegata Back On the Ballot for Governor/Lieutenant Governor | St. Thomas Source

The U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals put independent gubernatorial candidate Soraya Diase Coffelt and running mate, Republican John Canegata back on the general election ballot in an order published Friday. In late May, the V.I. Elections Office rejected the nominating petition for lieutenant governor candidate Canegata, saying that as a registered Republican he could not legally run on a nonpartisan ticket with an independent, Coffelt, giving Canegata three days to resubmit. Coffelt and Canegata declined to resubmit, instead challenging the ruling in court. On June 7, Chief Judge for the U.S. District of the Virgin Islands Wilma Lewis issued a temporary restraining order blocking the election system from disqualifying the two running mates.

US Virgin Islands: Board of Elections misses key federal deadline | Virgin Islands Daily News

The St. Thomas-St. John Board of Elections is in violation of a federal consent order that mandated the board to send out absentee ballots to overseas military personnel by June 17. During an emergency meeting called for Friday afternoon at the board’s offices in Lockhart Gardens on St. Thomas, board members were irate with the V.I. Elections System for not better communicating the status of the ballots in the last two weeks. They said that during that time, they thought that the ballots were finalized and sent out to military members. “We have a crisis,” said Arturo Watlington Jr., chairman of the St. Thomas-St. John Board of Elections. The U.S. Attorney’s Office asked the V.I. Attorney General’s Office to check on the status of sending out ballots for the Aug. 2 primary election in the territory, at which point the territorial office discovered this week that the ballots had not yet been finalized.

US Virgin Islands: St. Croix Elections Board meets without quorum | Virgin Islands Daily News

At a specially called meeting, the St. Croix Board of Elections discussed a newly released audit report from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission Office of the Inspector General. The meeting on Friday was brief because a quorum was not met, with members Raymond Williams and Lisa Harris Moorehead absent and Rupert Ross and Roland Moolenaar excused. Board Chairman Adelbert Bryan and members Lilliana Belardo O’Neal and Glenn Webster were present, along with newly appointed Elections System Supervisor Caroline Adams Fawkes, and they moved into executive session to discuss the confidential 16-page report. In a letter accompanying the report and addressed to Bryan, Inspector General Curtis Crider said he had sent the proposed report titled Elections System of the Virgin Islands Compliance With the Help America Vote Act of 2002 for Bryan’s review and comment.

US Virgin Islands: Elections board ends group’s review of ballots | Virgin Islands Daily News

At its monthly meeting Thursday, the St. Thomas-St. John District Board of Elections voted to bar a group of residents from reviewing tally sheets and paper ballots from the last election. The board took the action on the basis that the group – which has alleged irregularities and fraud in the Elections System – is conducting a full-fledged recount. At the meeting, board member Harry Daniel made a motion to “discontinue access for the purpose of counting the ballots.” Board Chairman Arturo Watlington Jr. and board members Lawrence Boschulte and Alecia Wells voted along with Daniels in favor of the motion. Board members Claudette Georges and Wilma Marsh-Monsanto, who herself is part of the group reviewing the documents, voted against the motion. Board member Lydia Hendricks was not present for the vote.

US Virgin Islands: Ballot review halted after group calls police to report ‘tampering’ | Virgin Islands Daily News

Tensions between Board of Elections officials and a group of former candidates who maintain that the last General Election was fraudulent have escalated, involving a call to the police, invoking a moratorium on the review of elections records and resulting in the cancellation of a Joint Board of Elections meeting that was scheduled for today. For almost two weeks, a group of unsuccessful candidates and members of the group Virgin Islands United for Social Justice and Accountability have pored over tally sheets at the St. Thomas Board of Elections office. Animosity between them and the Elections System staff and board members has risen to the degree that Joint Elections Board Chairwoman Alecia Wells characterizes the group’s behavior as bizarre and Elections staff say they are being unduly harassed by the residents.

US Virgin Islands: Judge dismisses lawsuit filed by 5 losing candidates | Virgin Islands Daily News

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit in which five candidates who ran unsuccessfully were seeking to throw out the territory’s 2012 General Election results. Senior District Court Judge Raymond Finch on Thursday issued a memorandum opinion and order dismissing the case on a number of grounds. He ruled that the plaintiffs – senatorial candidate Lawrence Olive, Senate At-large candidate Wilma Marsh-Monsanto, Delegate to Congress candidate Norma Pickard-Samuel and Board of Elections candidates Harriet Mercer and Diane Magras – failed to articulate specific wrongs in their December complaint. “Plaintiffs’ allegations do not distinguish their concerns – about the use of certain voting machines in the election or the election results in general – from concerns of other voters or even other candidates,” Finch wrote.

US Virgin Islands: Federal funds to buy voting machines depend on compliance with Disablilities Act | Virgin Islands Daily News

The V.I. Elections System must overcome at least two distinct hurdles before it can purchase new electronic voting machines. Board of Elections attorney Kimberly Salisbury told the St. Thomas-St. John Board of Elections at its meeting Thursday that the Elections System must become compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act – and all other federal laws – before the federal government will release the funds to purchase the machines. That means getting the U.S. Justice Department to certify that the new St. Thomas elections office is ADA compliant, according to board members Claudette Georges and Alecia Wells. It also means the board must adopt a new facilities plan – a process that, according to Georges and Wells, requires a public comment period and may take several months. The ADA certification could happen by the end of the month following a planned Feb. 21 visit by Justice Department officials, according to St. Thomas-St. John Deputy Elections Supervisor Mabel Maduro. It is less clear how long it might take to adopt a new facilities plan. No one at the meeting Thursday knew specifically where the last form of such a plan might exist.

US Virgin Islands: Judge hears complaints against election | Virgin Islands Daily News

Uncertainty about the territory’s 2012 election will last right up until the territory’s first swearing-in ceremony on Monday. District Judge Raymond Finch on Friday listened to almost four hours of arguments and testimony via teleconference about whether he should grant the request of five unsuccessful 2012 candidates to throw out the territory’s certified election results and grant a new election on a single-page paper ballot. At the end of the hearing, Finch gave the plaintiffs until Sunday to respond to the government’s motion to dismiss their complaint in advance of his ruling, which he said he intends to issue prior to Monday’s scheduled swearing-in of Board of Education members.

US Virgin Islands: Judge will not stop swearing-in of V.I. officials | Virgin Islands Daily News

Chief District Judge Curtis Gomez has blocked an attempt by five Virgin Islands candidates to prevent the swearing-in of the territory’s newly elected officials. The candidates, who lost their races in the November General Election, are preparing to file a motion today to recuse Gomez from hearing the case. In an amended complaint filed Dec. 21, senatorial candidate Lawrence Olive, Senate At-large candidate Wilma Marsh-Monsanto, Delegate to Congress candidate Norma Pickard-Samuel and Board of Elections candidates Harriet Mercer and Diane Magras asked the court for a temporary restraining order to prevent the Jan. 14 swearing-in ceremony. Each party is acting “pro se” and representing himself or herself.

US Virgin Islands: 5 losing candidates ask judge to stop swearing-in | Virgin Islands Daily News

Five unsuccessful candidates from the 2012 election are asking a federal judge to halt the swearing-in of the territory’s newest elected officials, claiming irregularities in the election cycle prevented a fair vote. In an amended complaint filed Dec. 21, Senatorial candidate Lawrence Olive, Senate At-large candidate Wilma Marsh-Monsanto, Delegate to Congress candidate Norma Pickard-Samuel and Board of Elections candidates Harriet Mercer and Diane Magras are seeking a temporary restraining order to prevent the January swearing-in ceremony.

US Virgin Islands: St. Thomas Elections Board to take up complaints today | Virgin Islands Daily News

On the eve of the first Joint Board of Elections meeting since the territory’s controversial General Election, board members in the St. Thomas-St. John District were still grappling with how to respond to a laundry list of complaints from unsuccessful candidates who are seeking a recount or a new election. The St. Thomas-St. John Board intended to hold an emergency meeting Wednesday morning to address complaints from senatorial candidate Lawrence Olive, Senate At-large candidate Wilma Marsh-Monsanto, Delegate to Congress candidate Norma Pickard-Samuel and Board of Elections candidates Harriet Mercer and Diane Magras. Taken together the complaints allege almost 50 violations of local and federal elections laws.

US Virgin Islands: Losing candidates send complaints blasting Elections System | Virgin Islands Daily News

Almost a month has passed since the polls closed on Election Day, but the fight is not over for a handful of unsuccessful candidates who sent letters on Monday blasting V.I. elections officials for the conduct of the 2012 election and demanding a recount or a new election. “These are just some of the problems, and nobody seems to want to step up to the plate to bring them forward, but I’m going to do it because I am a citizen of the Virgin Islands and a voter and a candidate, and I observed this first-hand,” said Lawrence Olive, a candidate for the 30th Legislature who was one of five candidates who filed complaints on Monday. “Now I know what we’re dealing with in the Elections System. Reform must come. Changes must be brought forward. If an investigation needs to take place, if people have to go to jail, then so be it. That is the only way we’re going to clean up the corruption.”

US Virgin Islands: Federal audit of Elections System delayed by John Abramson’s absence | Virgin Islands Daily News

A federal audit of the V.I. Elections System scheduled to begin last week is being delayed because of the absence of V.I. Elections Supervisor John Abramson Jr. Curtis Crider, the inspector general for the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, said Thursday that two factors contributed to the delay. “One, we wanted to make sure it was after the election was over,” Crider said.

US Virgin Islands: Attorney General Office investigating its own ‘clients’ | Virgin Islands Daily News

An investigation by the V.I. Justice Department into complaints about the territory’s 2012 elections raises questions about potential conflicts of interest and how they could affect the outcome of the probe. Two weeks ago, V.I. Attorney General Vincent Frazer announced that he had set up a panel of his senior staff to look into a multitude of voter complaints about the territory’s 2012 elections.

US Virgin Islands: Outcome unchanged on St. Croix after board finishes counting votes | Virgin Islands Daily News

Almost two weeks after the General Election, the St. Croix Board of Elections on Monday morning wrapped up counting all elements of the vote, an official said. The final tallying of votes did not change the outcome of the election or displace any of the winners, which have held their leads since electronic votes were totaled on the evening of Nov. 6, just after the polls closed for the General Election.

US Virgin Islands: Elections Board members question investigation | Virgin Islands Daily News

As the St. Thomas-St. John Board of Elections on Tuesday resumed counting paper ballots from the week-old General Election, tension is showing between some board members and the V.I. attorney general, who announced late last week that his office will investigate the territory’s election. Allegations of improprieties on and surrounding Election Day have been widespread. The St. Thomas-St. John Board, for instance, did not certify its voting machines until about 12 hours before the polls opened and failed to conduct a public test of the machines working properly prior to certification.

US Virgin Islands: Paper ballots leave St. Croix race largely unchanged | Virgin Islands Daily News

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.

US Virgin Islands: Attorney General orders probe of elections | Virgin Islands Daily News

V.I. Attorney General Vincent Frazer said Friday that he has set up a panel of his senior staff to look into a multitude of complaints residents have made to the V.I. Justice Department about the territory’s 2012 elections. “The complaints have been many,” he said. “We’ve gotten complaints about the conduct of the primary, about the certification of machines, about the use of ballots.” Those are just some of the complaints and allegations he is aware of, he said. “So we’ve established a panel of my senior staff to go in and investigate those things,” he said.