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.
Marsh-Monsanto ran for a Senate seat during the last election. Harriet Mercer and Diane Magras, who both ran for Board of Elections seats, and lost last November, have joined with Marsh-Monsanto and two other candidates – Lawrence Olive and Norma Pickard-Samuel – in a number of court actions claiming elections fraud.
The group’s lawsuits and court actions have failed to gain traction in V.I. Superior Court and the V.I. Supreme Court, and they have filed appeals in the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court. The group’s filings claim illegal voting machines were used in the elections, along with other irregularities, and contend that the election violated federal elections laws.
When the group undertook an examination of the records, Magras said that more than 600 votes had been lost from the official certified results. The group contends that the discrepancy may have cost some candidates their seats.
Magras called police June 28 to report that “seals had been broken” on boxes containing ballots. She did so over the objections of Acting St. Thomas-St. John Deputy Elections Supervisor Sharon Benjamin.
During Thursday’s meeting, Watlington cited Benjamin’s calls to him about the matter and a number of other actions the group had taken during their review, including moving furniture and ceiling tiles to search for a hidden camera.