After a meeting that lasted only15 minutes, St. Thomas-St. John District Board of Elections members voted Monday not to certify the April 8 special election results and left the matter in the hands of the Senate to figure out. The special election was triggered in the wake of a back-and-forth between Kevin Rodriquez and Janelle Sarauw, who, at this point, have both been elected to fill the same St. Thomas-St. John District Senate seat. At a special meeting earlier this month, Elections board attorney Julita de Leon said that Rodriquez would first have to be decertified in order for Sarauw to sit, and by law, only the Legislature has the authority to make that happen.
US Virgin Islands
Articles about voting issues in the US Virgin Islands.
Plaintiffs from Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico are making an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, arguing that where you live shouldn’t impact your right to vote for President. The Segovia v. Chicago Board of Elections Commissioners’ appeal is now receiving extra support after a new crowdfunding platform, CrowdJustice, selected the case as part of its United States launch. CrowdJustice, founded in the United Kingdom in 2015, helps raise funds for individuals, communities and non-profits seeking justice in the legal system. “We are excited to have our case selected by CrowdJustice, which will help bring national attention to the issue of voting rights in U.S. territories while also providing important resources to expand our advocacy,” said Neil Weare, President and Founder of We the People Project, a non-profit that advocates for equal rights and representation in U.S. territories. “The message we have for the rest of the country is that where you live should not impact your right to vote for President or have voting representation in Congress.”
The St. Croix District Board of Elections meeting Wednesday ended in chaos, with multiple motions made to unseat the chairwoman current at the beginning of the meeting and the subsequent chairman apparently seated during the session. Lilliana Belardo de O’Neal was board chairwoman as the meeting got underway. Glenn Webster, who initially was board secretary, moved that Belardo de O’Neal be removed from heading the board because, he said, of collusive action with her husband she had tried “to deliberately defraud the people of the Virgin Islands.” After the motion was seconded, Belardo de O’Neal said, “Hearing no objection, the motion passes.” Having no discussion on the motion seemed to upset board member Adelbert “Bert” Bryan, who said, “We cannot tell what we are talking about.” Other board members argued that there was no sense having a discussion on the motion since it passed.
US Virgin Islands: Territorial Voting Rights Lawsuit Faces Setback As Election Nears | Virgin Islands Consortium
Six U.S. citizens living in Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands saw their hopes of being able to vote for President in November take a step backward as a federal court ruled on Tuesday that Congress can deny the right to vote for state residents who move to certain U.S. territories while protecting it for those who move to other territories or a foreign country. Still pending are plaintiffs’ claims that a similar Illinois law also violates equal protection. Lead plaintiff Luis Segovia, a U.S. citizen who lives in Guam, served an 18-month tour in Iraq with the U.S. Army followed by a 10-month tour in Afghanistan as part of the Guam National Guard, yet as things stand he won’t be able to vote for President in November. Three other plaintiffs are also veterans – two from Puerto Rico and another from Guam. Also joining the lawsuit is the Iraq Afghanistan and Persian Gulf Veterans of the Pacific, based in Guam, and the League of Women Voters of the Virgin Islands. The case is part of a broader effort to secure voting rights in U.S. territories and the District of Columbia through a new constitutional amendment.
Gordon Ackley, write-in GOP candidate for Congress, and the V.I. GOP jointly filed suit Friday in federal court to demand the V.I. Election System hold a GOP primary or simply place Ackley on the November ballot, according to a statement sent Friday by Dennis Lennox, spokesperson for Ackley and the V.I. GOP. Ackley never filed a nominating petition prior to the statutory May 17 deadline for all candidates, but was chosen by the V.I. GOP to be its nominee for Congress at its June 11 convention on St. Thomas. The suit alleges V.I. voters were disenfranchised because there was no primary. “The actions of the defendants not only have the effect of violating the rights of Mr. Ackley and the Republican Party but also cast serious doubts on the ability of defendants to hold a fair and meaningful election in the U.S. Virgin Islands,” according to the complaint, filed in District Court on St. Thomas.
US Virgin Islands: Territorial Litigants Respond To Federal Opposition To Voting Rights Challenge | Virgin Islands Consortium
As Democratic presidential primaries approach in Guam (May 7), U.S. Virgin Islands (June 4), and Puerto Rico (June 5), and as the Republican and Democratic National Conventions draw near, voting rights advocates in U.S. territories are taking action both inside and outside the courtroom to bring an end to the disenfranchisement of the more than 4 million Americans living in U.S. territories. Yesterday, plaintiffs from Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands filed a response in the Northern District of Illinois to the federal government’s opposition to a voting rights lawsuit seeking expanded voting rights in U.S. territories. At the same time, We the People Project – a nonprofit advocacy organization that fights for voting rights in U.S. territories and the District of Columbia – is releasing a proposal for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would provide full enjoyment of the right to vote for U.S. citizens who call these areas home.
US Virgin Islands: Bill To Create One Board Of Elections For Entire Territory Moves Ahead | Virgin Islands Consortium
A bill sponsored by Senator Kenneth Gittens, who has been working for many months to reform the territory’s election process, was narrowly approved by members of the Committee on Rules and Judiciary, which Mr. Gittens chairs, albeit with some opposition and not before an amendment was added to the measure. Bill no. 31-0267 would amend Virgin Islands Code to merge all three board of elections — St. Croix District board, St. Thomas District board and the Joint Board of Elections — into one system that would simply be called the Board of Elections; and would govern the entire territory. The details of the measure, however, caused some concern at the hearing, held at the Fritz E. Lawaetz Legislative Hall here on Wednesday, including from St. Croix District Board Member Raymond Williams, who said some parts of the measure may be unconstitutional.
US Virgin Islands: Attorney General Walker Says Voters Must Feed Ballots Themselves | St. Croix Source
In a formal opinion he issued this week, acting Attorney General Claude Walker told the St. Croix District Board of Elections that voters must be allowed to feed their own ballots into voting machines in the upcoming 2016 elections. Walker was responding to the board’s request for his interpretation of two major court cases affecting how ballots are processed: the 1968 U.S. District Court of the Virgin Islands case of Melchior v. Todman, and the 2014 V.I. Supreme Court case of Mapp v. Fawkes. In his letter to St. Croix Board of Elections Chairwoman Liliana Belardo de O’Neal, Walker said the 1968 case no longer applies because the law it addressed was repealed.
US Virgin Islands: Joint Elections Board: Voting Machine Software Changes will Eliminate ‘Confusion’ Next Election | St. Croix Source
Changes approved Friday for software currently used in the territory’s voting could help prevent some of the confusion seen during the 2014 general election or, according to some Joint Board of Elections members, help make the situation worse. Among other things, voters last year were concerned that Elections officials were hand-counting party ballots in an effort to make sure they were not spoiled. At the time, board members said they did not agree with how the machines tallied ballots that had the party symbol selected and changes approved by the Joint Board during a Friday meeting on St. Thomas will ensure that: the software in the voting machines must be designed to keep ballots consistent with any party symbol selected by a voter (meaning that ballots will either be all Democratic or all Republican once a certain party is chosen);