US Virgin Islands

Articles about voting issues in the US Virgin Islands.

US Virgin Islands: Voting rights group seeks V.I. plaintiffs Appeals court: No birthright citizenship for American Samoa | Virgin Islands Daily News

The attorneys behind a series of lawsuits that will seek federal election voting rights for the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and Guam are continuing their efforts to find plaintiffs and are now developing their legal strategy, according to Neil Weare, founder of the voting rights group We the People Project. Weare would not give a specific date when his group would file the suits but said they would take place “in the next few months.” Semaj Johnson, a St. Croix attorney who is working with Weare on the cases, said that the group is taking its cues from the African-American civil rights movement, using legal action as a spark for wider social change. “With litigation, oftentimes it’s setting just a piece of precedent to move forward, and for our cause, it really is essentially about the incremental movement,” Johnson said. “We believe that it won’t only happen through the courts, most likely. It will happen through a combination of the courts, legislation, and of course public support.”

Full Article: Voting rights group seeks V.I. plaintiffs Appeals court: No birthright citizenship for American Samoa - News - Virgin Islands Daily News.

US Virgin Islands: Non-profit makes case for lawsuit to restore voting rights to territories | Virgin Islands Daily News

Speaking in front of the V.I. Bar Association, We the People Project founder Neil Weare outlined the case for extending the right to vote in presidential elections to residents of the territory. He also said that his organization, a non-profit group devoted to achieving voting rights for all U.S. territories, would file a lawsuit within months featuring plaintiffs from the territory who claim that their Constitutional rights have been violated by their disqualification from casting federal ballots. Semaj Johnson of the K.A. Rames, P.C. law firm will join Weare in filling the suit. “Virgin Islanders defend the Constitution and democracy abroad while being denied democracy at home,” Weare said to a crowded banquet room Friday morning at Mahogany Run Golf Course, which included Delegate to Congress Stacey Plaskett and District Court Judge Curtis Gomez.

Full Article: Non-profit makes case for lawsuit to restore voting rights to territories - News - Virgin Islands Daily News.

US Virgin Islands: Equal Voting Rights Movement Begins in the Territory | St. Croix Source

The right for Virgin Islanders to vote for president of the United States is gaining advocates through a new project. “We the People Project” is a nonprofit organization that fights to achieve equal rights and representation for residents of U.S. territories. Around 50 locals interested in equal voting rights for U.S. citizens living in the Virgin Islands attended an informational meeting Wednesday. Neil Weare, president and founder of “We the People Project,” said people in the territories want full rights. “They should not be treated like second-class citizens. It’s time to move beyond a 115-year-old doctrine. Together we can make the argument that where you live shouldn’t make a difference in your voting rights.”

Full Article: Equal Voting Rights Movement Begins in the Territory | St. Croix Source.

US Virgin Islands: Non-profit brings voting rights campaign to V.I. | Virgin Islands Daily News

Quirks of federal law and a century-old U.S. Supreme Court ruling about the shipment of oranges keep residents of territories like the U.S. Virgin Islands from having the right to vote in presidential elections. The We the People Project – a non-profit based in Washington, D.C. – thinks the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act is the right time for a legal challenges to change the antiquated rules. Neil Weare, president and founder of the We the People Project, said millions of Americans are denied a critical constitutional right due to the “legal fiction” created in a 1901 suit in which a Puerto Rico businessman sued the customs inspector for the port of New York, arguing that he shouldn’t have to pay import duties on oranges shipped to the city from the then newly acquired territory of Puerto Rico. The high court ruled that territories were not defined as a part of the United States in the matter of revenues, administrative efforts, and voting.

Full Article: Non-profit brings voting rights campaign to V.I. - News - Virgin Islands Daily News.

US Virgin Islands: 2014 Ballot Woes May Repeat in 2016 | St. Croix Source

The delays in counting votes and the trouble handling party symbol votes that plagued the 2014 election will repeat themselves in 2016, unless the Legislature acts or a lawsuit is filed and won in the next several months, elections officials told the V.I. Legislature this week. The Legislature met as the Committee of the Whole on Tuesday evening to hear from elections officials. The territory purchased new vote tabulating machines after Adelbert Bryan, who was at the time the St. Croix Elections Board chairman, waged a campaign to get rid of the territory’s previous machines, alleging, without evidence, possible widespread conspiracies to rig the territory’s elections and making numerous dubious claims about the old machines. In a test run shortly before the general election in 2014, the brand new ES&S ballot tabulators counted votes in a surprising way, due to the unique V.I. electoral system where senators vie to be the top seven vote-getters in their district.

Full Article: 2014 Ballot Woes May Repeat in 2016 | St. Croix Source.

US Virgin Islands: Senators question Elections board members, vow changes | Virgin Islands Daily News

Senators grilled Elections board members and staff Tuesday night about the 2014 primary, General and run-off elections. Senate President Neville James said at the beginning of the Committee of the Whole hearing that the purpose of the meeting was to talk about the issues that came up during the 2014 election cycle, and not to discuss election reform. He said election reform would be a topic for a future hearing. During Tuesday’s committee meeting, senators often were frustrated by the lack of a unified voice from the Elections board members. Sen. Kenneth Gittens said every time someone made a statement, some board members would be nodding in agreement and some would be shaking their heads in disagreement. “Not even a choir singing here today, everyone with their own sheet of music,” Gittens said.

Full Article: Senators question Elections board members, vow changes - News - Virgin Islands Daily News.

US Virgin Islands: Hansen wants to take recount case to U.S. Supreme Court | Virgin Islands Daily News

Sen. Alicia Hansen plans to petition the U.S. Supreme Court to hear her vote recount case, after the V.I. Supreme Court affirmed a lower court ruling that ordered a stop to the recount. The V.I. Supreme Court issued the decision upholding Judge Harold Willocks’ Dec. 24 ruling granting a writ of mandamus in a case filed by Sen. Nereida Rivera-O’Reilly against the V.I. government and the St. Croix Board of Elections. Hansen intervened in that case. Rivera-O’Reilly, who was seventh among elected St. Croix senators, filed the case in V.I. Superior Court on Dec. 8 – four days after the board began the recount of Hansen’s write-in votes. Rivera-O’Reilly asked the court to stop the recount on the grounds that it was illegal. The territory’s high court on Thursday found that although the lower court’s decision granting the writ was correct, its reasoning was wrong.

Full Article: Hansen wants to take recount case to U.S. Supreme Court - News - Virgin Islands Daily News.

US Virgin Islands: EAC sees ‘no reason for concern’ about Elections System’s corrective action plan progress | Virgin Islands Daily News

Elections officials said they got good news after a teleconference with the U.S. Election Assistance Commission on Thursday. The commission representatives were calling to check in with the boards and the V.I. Elections System and provide a status update on the corrective action plan the Elections System implemented following a scathing 2013 audit. In November 2013, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission released an audit that looked at the Elections System’s compliance with the Help America Vote Act of 2002. In the audit report, completed by the Office of the Interior’s Office of the Inspector General, Inspector General Curtis Crider said his office found that the V.I. Elections System’s lax posture on internal controls put $3.3 million in Help America Vote Act funds and other funding at risk of fraud, waste or mismanagement.

Full Article: Federal agency sees 'no reason for concern' about Elections System's corrective action plan progress - News - Virgin Islands Daily News.

US Virgin Islands: Court Rules Hansen Not Entitled to a Recount | St. Croix Source

V.I. Superior Court Judge Harold Willocks ruled Wednesday that Sen. Alicia “Chucky” Hansen was not a candidate for election to the Senate in the November general election and is therefore not entitled to a recount. The 27-page opinion – which in places reads more like a lesson in English grammar and usage than a legal document – came in response to a motion by Sen. Nereida Rivera O’Reilly seeking a writ of mandamus and injunctive relief against the St. Croix District Board of Elections decision to recount Hansen’s vote. The opinion can be read here. Willocks denied Hansen’s motion to dismiss O’Reilly’s motion, granted the writ of mandamus, ordered the Board of Elections to deny Hansen’s petition for a recount, and ordered that any actions taken as a result of the petition for recount be null and void. The decision appears to put an end to the circuitous and convoluted case that had its roots in 2008, when Hansen was convicted on three counts of willful failure to file an income tax return. Under the Revised Organic Act, the federal legislation which provides the legal underpinning of the territory, the conviction made her ineligible to serve in the Legislature.

Full Article: Court Rules Hansen Not Entitled to a Recount | St. Croix Source.

US Virgin Islands: 2 days after completing recount, Elections struggling to certify it | Virgin Islands Daily News

The St. Croix District Board of Elections still has not certified the results of its recount process for three unsuccessful candidates from the Nov. 4 General Election, even two days after they completed recounting votes. The board members and its team of talliers completed counting more than 14,000 ballots just after midday Thursday and wanted to compile the votes on a spreadsheet so they could comprehensively review the results, according to vice chairwoman of the board Lilliana Belardo de O’Neal. On Friday, O’Neal said the task of compiling the vote results into categories had taken the staff longer than anticipated, so she was just awaiting their completion before the board would be able to certify the results of the recount. As of late Friday, the compilation still had not been finished, and board member Raymond Williams said he did not know when the tabulations would be completed or when the board would be able to publish the results and certify the recount.

Full Article: 2 days after completing recount, Elections struggling to certify it - News - Virgin Islands Daily News.

US Virgin Islands: Judge issues arrest warrant for supervisor of Elections | Virgin Islands Daily News

V.I. Superior Court Judge Harold Willocks has issued a warrant for the arrest of Elections Supervisor Caroline Fawkes, after she failed to appear Monday at a court hearing for which she had been subpoenaed to offer testimony and provide documents to the court. The hearing stems from the V.I. Superior Court case in which Sen. Nereida Rivera-O’Reilly has challenged the St. Croix Elections Board’s recount of votes cast for Sen. Alicia Hansen, calling the entire process illegal. Calls made by The Daily News to Fawkes’ cellphone on Monday went unanswered. In a brief hearing last week in the case, Fawkes had been given a subpoena to come to court Monday and to bring documents, including Joint Board of Elections motion sheets and attendance records for certain dates pertaining to the General Election.

Full Article: Judge issues arrest warrant for supervisor of Elections - News - Virgin Islands Daily News.

US Virgin Islands: St. Croix recount will resume today | Virgin Islands Daily News

The St. Croix District Board of Elections is expected to resume its recounting efforts today after V.I. Superior Court Judge Harold Willocks issued an order Monday prohibiting them from proceeding with the recount while barring members of the media or public from observing the count. Following a hearing Monday, Willocks found that the board members were wrong in their interpretation of the law and issued an order from the bench granting The Daily News’ request for the court to issue a restraining order and permanent injunction. He ordered the board to accommodate the public for the recount. On Tuesday afternoon, Daily News legal counsel Semaj Johnson met with Elections Supervisor Caroline Fawkes and Assistant Attorney General Angela Polk, who is representing the board. They did a walk through of how they expected the recount areas would be set up for public accessibility today when the recount resumes at 10 a.m. The conference room at the Elections System Office in Sunny Isle Annex is being used and is set up similarly to how it was set up during the ballot counts in the days that followed November’s General Election.

Full Article: St. Croix recount will resume today - News - Virgin Islands Daily News.

US Virgin Islands: Judge grants restraining order forcing Elections Board to let public watch recount | Virgin Islands Daily News

A judge on Monday granted a temporary restraining order and an injunction requested by The Virgin Islands Daily News and ordered the St. Croix Board of Elections to allow public access to the recount process. Elections Supervisor Caroline Fawkes said Monday afternoon that the board will get whatever measures are necessary to accommodate the public in place before resuming the recount. A press release will be issued to notify the public when the recount will continue, she said. The Daily News on Friday filed a complaint in V.I. Superior Court, petitioning the court for the temporary restraining order and emergency injunctive relief, after the St. Croix Board of Elections on Thursday booted the public and the media out of the conference room where a recount of votes for certain candidates was starting.

Full Article: Judge grants Daily News restraining order forcing St. Croix Elections Board to let public watch recount - News - Virgin Islands Daily News.

US Virgin Islands: Counting comes to an end in time for runoff | Virgin Islands Daily News

With the certification of the 2014 General Election accomplished in both districts on Saturday, the V.I. Elections System received the final numbers in each of last week’s races, which will require a runoff election in the gubernatorial race that has been scheduled for Tuesday. Voters across the territory went to the polls Nov. 4 and cast votes for senators, delegate to Congress and members of their district boards of elections, and they also were tasked with selecting from among five candidate teams who they wanted as the next governor and lieutenant governor of the territory. By the end of the tabulations Saturday, the ticket of Kenneth Mapp and Osbert Potter had garnered more of the popular votes. However, they still had not received the 50 percent of the votes plus one that would make them an outright winner under local law.

Full Article: Counting comes to an end in time for runoff - News - Virgin Islands Daily News.

US Virgin Islands: Early voting put on hold on St. Croix | Virgin Islands Daily News

With more than 400 ballots already cast early voting was suspended Sunday night in the wake of the V.I. Supreme Court re-affirming its decision that Sen. Alicia Hansen be removed from the ballot. According to a press release, Supervisor of Elections Caroline Fawkes made the decision to comply with the Supreme Court order. It is anyone’s guess when early voting will resume and what course of action the St. Croix District Board of Elections and the Supervisor of Elections will take to ensure that the ballots for the Nov. 4 General Election are in compliance with the order handed down Friday. As part of the opinion by the justices, Supervisor Caroline Fawkes has been ordered to immediately recall all General Election ballots with Hansen’s name and replace them with ballots omitting her as a candidate or in the alternative “remove Hansen’s name from the ballot, such as by covering her name with a sticker”, the opinion read.

Full Article: Early voting put on hold on St. Croix - News - Virgin Islands Daily News.

US Virgin Islands: St. Thomas Elections Board finally officially certifies primary results | Virgin Islands Daily News

Uncertain of the legality of the board’s initial “certification” last week of the St. Thomas-St. John District primary election, the board certified the election again during a meeting Monday. Still, one board member, several candidates and several members of the public, at least, are questioning whether the election was legitimate – despite two rounds of certification. “Anything after the deadline makes it illegal,” said board member Wilma Marsh-Monsanto, the single board member present to abstain from voting to approve the official certification of the election on Monday. Board Chairman Arturo Watlington Jr., Vice-chairman Harry Daniel, Secretary Claudette Georges, member Lydia Hendricks and member Larry Boschulte were also present and voted to certify the election. The board initially convened in a special meeting Monday to ratify the original certification actions taken by the board, in which Daniel, Georges and Boschulte voted to certify the election a week ago, along with member Alecia Wells, who attended the meeting via teleconference and cast her vote via an electronic signature sent over a fax machine.

Full Article: St. Thomas Elections Board finally officially certifies primary results - News - Virgin Islands Daily News.

US Virgin Islands: Elections Board violates code, fails to certify results of primary on Sunday | Virgin Islands Daily News

The St. Thomas-St. John District Board of Elections failed to meet the legal deadline for certifying its primary election Sunday, putting it in violation of the V.I. Code. Unofficially, the certification has been put off until Monday, despite the potential consequences. Any person deemed responsible for the delay of the election returns is subject to a $500 maximum fine or a year of imprisonment, or both. Additionally, the “casting of lots” is not supposed to take place within a district unless the district has certified its election. Elections officials said that the casting of lots, which was scheduled for today at 5:30 p.m. in both districts, likely will be moved until late August, though they also said that the decision ultimately is up to V.I. Elections Supervisor Caroline Fawkes.

Full Article: St. Thomas Elections Board violates V.I. Code, fails to certify results of primary on Sunday - News - Virgin Islands Daily News.

US Virgin Islands: Obama Administration: Citizenship not a fundamental right for Virgin Islanders |Virgin Islands Daily News

In a legal brief filed last week, the Obama administration took the position that citizenship is not a fundamental right of people born in unincorporated U.S. territories. The federal government maintains that Congress has the legislative discretion to grant privileges to those born in the territories as they see fit. The brief was filed in response to a lawsuit about citizenship rights for unincorporated territories that is pending before a federal appeals court. The lawsuit is Tuaua v. United States, and it is about American Samoa’s citizenship rights. While the situation in American Samoa is different than in the U.S. Virgin Islands, the outcome of the litigation could impact citizenship rights for Virgin Islands residents as well. The United States took ownership of the Virgin Islands in 1917, and citizenship was granted through an act of Congress in 1927. Congress has not made the same decision for American Samoa and residents born there are considered “non-citizen nationals.”

Full Article: Obama: Citizenship not a fundamental right for Virgin Islanders - News - Virgin Islands Daily News.

US Virgin Islands: Elections lags, fails to certify primary elections | Virgin Islands Daily News

Despite claims that the territory’s primary elections in both districts would be certified Tuesday, they were not. While both districts continued counting late into Tuesday night, V.I. Elections Supervisor Caroline Fawkes said that it was unlikely that the final results would be certified until today, or possibly later in the week. They also were not revealing numbers of all the walk-in, mail-in and provisional ballots at stake, nor were they revealing results, including those of several Senate candidates whose fates hang in the balance. The boards have until Aug. 17 to certify the elections. Last week, internal strife between St. Thomas-St. John Deputy Supervisor Nefredieza Barbel and district board Chairman Arturo Watlington Jr. marked the counting process in the St. Thomas-St. John office. 

Full Article: Elections lags, fails to certify primary elections - News - Virgin Islands Daily News.

US Virgin Islands: St. Croix Elections Board recommends changes to early voting bill | Virgin Islands Daily News

During its regular meeting Wednesday, the St. Croix District Board of Elections voted to forward recommendations to the Senate and governor that they say will safeguard the rights of residents and make the process of early voting more efficient for the board. Board member Raymond Williams made a motion that was approved by the board to send recommendations to Gov. John deJongh Jr. on changes that should be included in the early voting bill, as requested by his office. Williams said current language in proposed changes to legislation are contradictory, and the members present agreed that at the next joint board meeting they also will recommend that the joint board forward additional suggestions to the chief legal counsel of the V.I. Legislature to review. The board agreed that they will discuss with the joint board the ability to recreate walk-in ballots in the event that a ballot is not readable by the machine. Williams said that would allow them to properly make selections when the intent of the voter is clear. Chairman Adelbert Bryan said the board is in the process of preparing to go before the Legislature for its annual budget hearing Aug. 19.

Full Article: St. Croix Elections Board recommends changes to early voting bill - News - Virgin Islands Daily News.