In a move to address many of the troubles plaguing the V.I. Joint Board of Elections, the board’s chairman held a press conference Thursday to clear the air. So far, the board’s two-year cycle has gotten off to a rocky start, and Joint Board Chairman Rupert Ross Jr. wanted to dispel the impression that little has been done to address the problems, he said.
Ross offered members of the media information about what he felt had contributed to the current state of apparent disarray and outlined how the board plans to move forward despite the obstacles. Ross discussed how he and V.I. Elections Supervisor John Abramson Jr., who was reappointed to another 8-year term by the board on Wednesday, were preparing the board for the upcoming election cycle and how they were attempting to push forward much-needed legislation in time for the 2012 elections.
Most of the Joint Board meetings this year have been dramatic affairs with a lot of back-and-forth between members. Many have ended in an uproar involving yelling matches and even threats from the public in attendance. Some board members have sought a police presence at meetings to ensure their safety.
The board’s self-described mission of pushing through election reform so far has foundered because of personality clashes and disputes.
Ross said that members are working on the issues and that he has urged members “to work together to accomplish the task of the board.”
To increase public participation and dialogue, Ross plans to start a radio program open to the public discussion on election issues, he said.
As yet, the board has failed to take action on a number of election reform issues or presented a packet to the V.I. Legislature for consideration. It is the first year they have failed to do so since St. Croix member Dodson James first was elected in 1993, James said during the press conference.
… At Wednesday’s meeting, Ross picked up the failed document – which outlines changes dealing with paper ballots, electronic voting machines, independent legal counsel and early voting – and accepted it for review by the Executive Committee to keep it alive, he said.
St. Thomas member Lawrence Boschulte said after the press conference that Bryan has been blamed for many of the problems because he refuses to follow much of the board.