On the eve of the first Joint Board of Elections meeting since the territory’s controversial General Election, board members in the St. Thomas-St. John District were still grappling with how to respond to a laundry list of complaints from unsuccessful candidates who are seeking a recount or a new election. The St. Thomas-St. John Board intended to hold an emergency meeting Wednesday morning to address complaints from senatorial candidate Lawrence Olive, Senate At-large candidate Wilma Marsh-Monsanto, Delegate to Congress candidate Norma Pickard-Samuel and Board of Elections candidates Harriet Mercer and Diane Magras. Taken together the complaints allege almost 50 violations of local and federal elections laws.
However, three issues halted the meeting Wednesday after a four-member quorum of the Board was ready to begin:
– No one in the Elections System had notified the public or the complainants about the meeting. When asked about publicly noticing the meeting, Deputy Elections Supervisor Mabel Maduro told the board she had informed only one person – one of the complainants – about the meeting only after the candidate got word of the meeting and called to ask about it.
The board holding a meeting without proper notification and announcement to the public is illegal and in violation of the territory’s open meetings law.
– St. Thomas-St. John Board member Harry Daniel said he was receiving copies of the complaints Wednesday morning and he felt the board should have more time to review them before responding.
“This is a whole lot of stuff to be dealing with today,” Daniel said.
– The Board’s attorney, Assistant Attorney General Kimberly Salisbury, did not show up for the planned 10 a.m. meeting. Board member Lawrence Boschulte said he would not proceed without legal guidance. Daniel also said he wanted the board’s legal counsel to examine the complaints.
“They should be subpoenaed to my meeting,” Boschulte said, alluding to subpoenas the Attorney General’s Office issued to board members last week as part of the V.I. Justice Department’s ongoing probe of the 2012 election.