V.I. Superior Court Judge Denise Francois has granted a temporary restraining order “enjoining, restraining and prohibiting Defendant Arturo Watlington, in his capacity as chairman of the Board of Elections and the Virgin Islands Board of Elections” from allowing voter registration in the St. Thomas-St. John district ahead of next week’s runoff election for governor and lieutenant governor, the V.I. Department of Justice announced Wednesday. Meanwhile, the fact that one district planned to register voters while the other did not appears to fly in the face of the intent, if not the explicit wording, of a 2016 V.I. law unifying former district elections boards into a single board.
In the Nov. 6 general election, Democratic Party challenger Albert Bryan received more votes than the incumbent, independent Kenneth Mapp, but neither received 50 percent of the vote in the seven-canddiate race, leading to a runoff between the two top vote getters Nov. 20. Early voting starts Nov. 17.
The Board of Elections was divided on whether to resume voter registration, but at a meeting last Friday the bard announced registration would resume. Over the weekend, V.I. Attorney General Claude Walker issued an advisory opinion that V.I. election laws prohibit voter registration 30 days before or five days after a general election. Walker’s legal opinion said the runoff is a continuation of the general election so registration may not resume until five days after the Nov. 20 runoff.