The St. Croix Board of Elections met briefly Wednesday morning in a specially called session to authorize the hiring of a private attorney to represent them in the case where they are being sued by the Virgin Islands Action Group in federal court. The board passed a resolution to transfer just more than $8,000 from its Travel Fund into its Professional Services Fund that already had just more than $4,000. The board then authorized the use of the $12,000 now in the Professional Services Fund to be used to retain legal counsel to represent them in the case and to pay all legal service charges, court costs and fees. Board chairman Rupert Ross Jr. said the body agreed to retain the law firm of McChain, Nissman and Miller. He said he did not know how much they will have to spend during the course of the litigation, because it depends on how long it takes to resolve the matter.
The V.I. Action Group, a group of residents seeking to recall some of the board members, filed a complaint in U.S. District Court contesting V.I. Elections Supervisor John Abramson Jr.’s interpretation of the Revised Organic Act of 1954 regarding signature thresholds for recall petitions. In accepting four of six recall petitions as valid earlier this month, Abramson said he would follow the recommendation of V.I. Attorney General Vincent Frazer about how to determine the number of signatures that are needed. Abramson maintained his view, however, that the law means that 50 percent of all votes cast for a specific office – governor, senator, V.I. Board of Elections, etc. – are required, no matter how many votes each voter could cast.
Frazer’s opinion is that the signature threshold should be based on the number of votes cast for a specific candidate, which would result in a smaller number of signatures being required than under Abramson’s interpretation. Abramson has said that it was intentional to set the threshold at a high level in order to fend off frivolous recalls.