US Virgin Islands

Articles about voting issues in the US Virgin Islands.

US Virgin Islands: Absentee ballots can’t be read by voting machines | Virgin Islands Daily

More than 90 percent of absentee ballots for the 2018 runoff election have to be remade, according to V.I. Board of Elections Chairman Arturo Watlington Jr., an unavoidable reality of the short time span between the General Election and the runoff. On Tuesday, Watlington said board members on St. Thomas counted 273 absentee ballots — of which, more than 250 will have to be remade because they are not “official” runoff election ballots and cannot be fed into the voting machines. Watlington said the two weeks between the Nov. 6 General Election and Nov. 20 runoff election gave little time for elections officials to order and receive new ballots.

Full Article: Absentee ballots can’t be read by voting machines | News | virginislandsdailynews.com.

US Virgin Islands: Court Blocks New Voter Registrations Before Nov. 20 Runoff Election | St. John Source

V.I. Superior Court Judge Denise Francois has granted a temporary restraining order “enjoining, restraining and prohibiting Defendant Arturo Watlington, in his capacity as chairman of the Board of Elections and the Virgin Islands Board of Elections” from allowing voter registration in the St. Thomas-St. John district ahead of next week’s runoff election for governor and lieutenant governor, the V.I. Department of Justice announced Wednesday. Meanwhile, the fact that one district planned to register voters while the other did not appears to fly in the face of the intent, if not the explicit wording, of a 2016 V.I. law unifying former district elections boards into a single board.

Full Article: Court Blocks New Voter Registrations Before Nov. 20 Runoff Election | St. John Source.

US Virgin Islands: Snafu delays election certification | Virgin Islands Daily News

The V.I. Board of Elections postponed its certification of the Democratic primary election Friday after members realized the final certification document did not include a territory-wide tally for the gubernatorial and senator at-large races. Elections Board Chairman Arturo Watlington Jr. said the document showed only the district results for both races and that he would not certify the election until the document showed a merged, territory-wide result. “Why would we certify these numbers if they only reflect the districts?” Watlington asked. “Our certification has to be territorial, as one entity.”

Full Article: Snafu delays election certification | News | virginislandsdailynews.com.

US Virgin Islands: Elections Board Fields Challenges About Machine Irregularities | St. Croix Source

With the counting of outstanding ballots complete in both districts, V.I. Joint Board of Elections members convened Thursday to resolve several challenges filed by or against candidates running in the August Democratic primary. Nearly two hours was spent at the beginning of the meeting dealing with a recount petition filed by St. Croix Senate candidate Nemmy Jackson-Williams, whose concerns centered on irregularities experienced by voters using machines either during the early voting process or on primary election day. Specifically, two witnesses called by Jackson-Williams and her campaign manager Dale Brown said the voting machines they used didn’t accept their ballots the first time around, and once the ballots were accepted, the screens on the machines didn’t show the voters who they actually voted for.

Full Article: Elections Board Fields Challenges About Machine Irregularities | St. Croix Source.

US Virgin Islands: Voting machines under-perform on under-voting | Virgin Islands Daily News

Early voting will be slightly later today than anticipated. V.I. Elections Board Chairman Arturo Watlington Jr. said voting could not start until after noon today after testing the machines revealed an inconsistency in how the devices read the ballots. The machines were reading and reporting under-voting for the offices of governor and senator-at-large, but for the main legislative race, in which voters can choose up to seven senators, no under-voting was being reported. Under-voting is the process of selecting fewer candidates for some offices while selecting the maximum number in other races — for example, choosing three senators instead of seven, or voting for seven district senators and withholding a vote in the governor’s race.

Full Article: Voting machines under-perform on under-voting | News | virginislandsdailynews.com.

US Virgin Islands: Elections officials push early voting later … again | Virgin Islands Daily News.com

Early voting has been delayed — again. According to Elections Board Chairman Arturo Watlington Jr., early voting for the Aug. 4 Democratic primary will now begin Monday and end July 25. The announcement, made Thursday at a Board of Elections meeting, marks the third delay in early voting for the primary, with dates previously scheduled for July 10 and July 14. The date changes are largely because of a delay in paying a Nebraska-based contractor — Elections System and Software — an estimated $18,000 for developing and shipping the ballots to the territory, according to Watlington.

Full Article: Elections officials push early voting later ... again | News | virginislandsdailynews.com.

US Virgin Islands: USVI, BVI Confer on Voting Machines | St. Croix Source

Supervisor of Elections Caroline Fawkes met with BVI election officials recently to talk about the territory’s experience with the use of DS 200 Voting Scanner/Tabulator Machine over the years.\ The machines; DS 200 paper ballot tabulators make by ES&S, were a pet project of St. Croix District Board of Elections Chairman Adelbert Bryan, who spearheaded a campaign against the old, 1980s-vintage Danaher Electronic 1242 machines. Bryant said the old machines were unreliable and could be manipulated. Despite many public claims, no evidence that they can actually be manipulated or that they ever have been manipulated was presented. The territory switched to the new machines in 2013. The machines did not count votes by party symbol correctly in 2014, leading to controversy. The software was subsequently updated.

Full Article: USVI, BVI Confer on Voting Machines | St. Croix Source.

US Virgin Islands: As Election Year Dawns, Board Of Elections Offices Remain Closed ‘Until Further Notice’ | Virgin Islands Consortium

With another big election year just days away and voter registration drives looking to start early next year, Elections Supervisor Caroline Fawkes said in a release issued Wednesday that the St. Croix and St. John Elections offices will remain closed “until further notice.” “The St. Croix District Office located at Sunny Isle Annex Unit 4, remains closed until further notice as we deal with major renovations after Hurricane Maria,” Mrs. Fawkes said. “We do not have the capability to provide any voter’s identification cards, we can only register voters. The St. John Elections Office has no internet service; therefore, we also cannot provide any voter identification cards. The St. John residents can register at the St. Thomas Elections Office. Presently, the only functional Elections Office is the St. Thomas Office, which is 90 percent operational.”

US Virgin Islands: Elections Board Compelled to Certify Sarauw’s Election When It Meets in Two Weeks | St. Croix Source

The St. Thomas-St. John District Board of Elections must certify the April 8 special election results, according to a judge’s order, clearing the way for Janelle Sarauw to take the vacant seat in the V.I. Senate. Board members said Thursday they will deal with the issue in two weeks. According to a short ruling issued Thursday by Superior Court Judge Kathleen Mackay, Sarauw had “no other means” of obtaining emergency relief and is therefore entitled mandamus relief.

Full Article: St. Thomas Source » Elections Board Compelled to Certify Sarauw’s Election When It Meets in Two Weeks.

US Virgin Islands: Election Board Votes Not to Certify Special Election Result | St. Thomas Source

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.

Full Article: St. Thomas Source » Election Board Votes Not to Certify Special Election Result.

US Virgin Islands: US territories’ veterans take up the fight for voting rights | Saipan Tribune

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.”

Full Article: US territories’ veterans take up the fight for voting rights - Saipan News, Headlines, Events, Ads | Saipan Tribune.

US Virgin Islands: St. Croix District Election Board Ends Year in Chaos | St. Thomas Source

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.

Full Article: St. Croix District Election Board Ends Year in Chaos | St. Thomas Source.

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.

Full Article: Territorial Voting Rights Lawsuit Faces Setback As Election Nears -.

US Virgin Islands: V.I. GOP Sues To Put Ackley On Ballot | St. Thomas Source

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.

Full Article: V.I. GOP Sues To Put Ackley On Ballot | St. Thomas Source.

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.

Full Article: Territorial Litigants Respond To Federal Opposition To Voting Rights Challenge -.

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. 

Full Article: Bill To Create One Board Of Elections For Entire Territory Moves Ahead -.

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. 

Full Article: AG Walker Says Voters Must Feed Ballots Themselves | St. Croix Source.

US Virgin Islands: New Machines Will Reduce Errors, Save Money | St. Croix Source

A new machine that voters will use to cast their ballots in the territory’s next election will not only save the V.I. Board of Elections money on paper costs, but it will also reduce the chance of voting errors, said Willie Wesley Jr. of Omaha-based company Election Systems and Software. “It’s going to actually put the Virgin Islands on the cutting edge of technology,” Wesley said. “If there’s something out there more advanced than this, I want to see it.” Wesley, who has been working with Elections Supervisor Caroline Fawkes to overhaul the territory’s voting technology, gave a demonstration of the new machine at Tutu Park Mall on Thursday evening. The machine is called ExpressVote and is a touchscreen computer system that voters insert a blank ballot into before making selections. The ExpressVote then prints barcodes on the ballot that can be read by an electronic tabulator.
Full Article: Elections: New Machines Will Reduce Errors, Save Money | St. Croix Source.

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);

Full Article: Joint Elections Board: Voting Machine Software Changes will Eliminate ‘Confusion’ Next Election | St. Croix Source.

US Virgin Islands: St. Croix Elections Board Plans for Election Reform | St. Croix Source

The St. Croix District Elections Board discussed plans for election reform and ways to deal with a perceived violation of a contract from the supplier of the territory’s voting machines, which, according to some, did not perform as expected, adding expense and delays to the 2014 general election. … In the past, the board has discussed some of the changes they feel are needed, including revising the general elections ballot, the timing of primary elections to include military voters serving overseas, early voting, deadlines for filing candidacy and retaining independent legal counsel. … The other issue that drew heated discussion was dealing with the company, ES&S, which sold the territory voting machines that were used in the 2014 election. According to Elections, the machines did not perform as promised.  After the primary election, board members determined the machines read some votes incorrectly and did not tally cross-voting correctly. As a result, during the general election, voters were not allowed to scan their own ballots but handed them to poll watchers for processing. That procedure did not sit well with residents.

Full Article: St. Croix Elections Board Plans for Election Reform | St. Croix Source.