District Judge Wilma Lewis heard oral arguments Friday in the case pitting the St. Croix Board of Elections against a group of residents who launched a recall petition against most of the board members. The V.I. Action Group, which initially sought to recall six of seven board members, filed a complaint in U.S. District Court contesting the board’s interpretation of the Revised Organic Act of 1954 regarding signature thresholds for recall petitions and the board’s inaction to schedule a recall election. In April, after checking signatures, Elections Supervisor John Abramson Jr. accepted four of the six recall petitions as valid. Abramson initially was named in the suit, but V.I. Action Group has since filed court papers dismissing him from the suit.
The group’s complaint seeks injunctive relief by having the District Court clarify a section of the law that states how the threshold of the number of signatures should be met when seeking the recall of elected officials. The plaintiffs also want the judge to order the Board of Elections to set a date certain for the special election to be held. On Friday, more than 50 residents, many who are members of the action group, filled the large courtroom to show their support.
Yohana Manning, who represents the group, told the court that the board failed to act within the 15-day window following the filing of the petitions in March and that the board did not make any attempts to set procedures as to how the process would run. “They knew the petitions were being circulated, but they never acted,” he said. “They just sat on their hands.”
Manning said the board never took any official position, and their only statements were as individuals, because they never specifically voted on an official position.