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.

US Virgin Islands: 5 losing candidates ask judge to stop swearing-in | Virgin Islands Daily News

Five unsuccessful candidates from the 2012 election are asking a federal judge to halt the swearing-in of the territory’s newest elected officials, claiming irregularities in the election cycle prevented a fair vote. In an amended complaint filed Dec. 21, 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 are seeking a temporary restraining order to prevent the January swearing-in ceremony.

US Virgin Islands: Losing candidates send complaints blasting Elections System | Virgin Islands Daily News

Almost a month has passed since the polls closed on Election Day, but the fight is not over for a handful of unsuccessful candidates who sent letters on Monday blasting V.I. elections officials for the conduct of the 2012 election and demanding a recount or a new election. “These are just some of the problems, and nobody seems to want to step up to the plate to bring them forward, but I’m going to do it because I am a citizen of the Virgin Islands and a voter and a candidate, and I observed this first-hand,” said Lawrence Olive, a candidate for the 30th Legislature who was one of five candidates who filed complaints on Monday. “Now I know what we’re dealing with in the Elections System. Reform must come. Changes must be brought forward. If an investigation needs to take place, if people have to go to jail, then so be it. That is the only way we’re going to clean up the corruption.”

US Virgin Islands: Defendants call elections lawsuit frivolous | Virgin Islands Daily News

Defendants in the V.I. Superior Case filed on behalf of six of the seven members of the St. Croix Board of Elections say they are ready to defend themselves against charges of defamation of character and to deny they created a scandal. The members of the Board of Elections – Rupert Ross Jr., Lisa Harris Moorhead, Dodson James, Anita Davila, Carmen Golden and Raymond Williams – filed suit in V.I. Superior Court against members of the V.I. Action Group, fellow Board of Elections member Adelbert Bryan and others who the board members say are trying to ruin their reputations.

US Virgin Islands: 6 Elections Board members file lawsuit against Adelbert Bryan, V.I. Action Group | Virgin Islands Daily News

Six of the seven members of the St. Croix Board of Elections filed suit in V.I. Superior Court against members of the V.I. Action Group, fellow board member Adelbert Bryan and others who the board members say are trying to ruin their reputations. In the 16-page complaint, plaintiffs Rupert Ross Jr., Lisa Harris Moorhead, Dodson James, Anita Davila, Carmen Golden and Raymond Williams charge that the defendants created a scandal and produced and published false, misleading and offensive material about them to recall them as duly elected members of the V.I. Board of Elections.

US Virgin Islands: Elections Board OKs hiring of attorney for court fight against Virgin Islands Action Group | Virgin Islands Daily News

The St. Croix Board of Elections met briefly Wednesday morning in a specially called session to authorize the hiring of a private attorney to represent them in the case where they are being sued by the Virgin Islands Action Group in federal court. The board passed a resolution to transfer just more than $8,000 from its Travel Fund into its Professional Services Fund that already had just more than $4,000. The board then authorized the use of the $12,000 now in the Professional Services Fund to be used to retain legal counsel to represent them in the case and to pay all legal service charges, court costs and fees. Board chairman Rupert Ross Jr. said the body agreed to retain the law firm of McChain, Nissman and Miller. He said he did not know how much they will have to spend during the course of the litigation, because it depends on how long it takes to resolve the matter.

US Virgin Islands: Senate committee endorses paper ballots | Virgin Islands Daily News

The Senate Government Operations, Energy and Veterans Affairs Committee on Wednesday voted to forward three elections bills to the Rules Committee and tabled two others. The bills that moved out of committee were: a bill allowing paper ballots under the elections laws of the territory, a bill pushing up the date for primary elections so the territory would be in compliance with the federal Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act, and a bill changing the way senators are elected to a combination of island seats and at-large seats. Senators said they plan to amend all of the forwarded bills while they are in the Rules Committee. The bill about paper ballots, sponsored by Sen. Neville James and co-sponsored by Sen. Celestino White Sr., would allow voters to choose whether they wanted to vote by machine or by paper ballot. As written, it also requires that all paper ballots be counted after the closing of the polls, at the same time that electronic ballots are counted on election night.

US Virgin Islands: Efforts to recall Elections board members progressing – claims initially stemmed from a decision banning the use of paper ballots in 2010 | Virgin Islands Daily News

Half a dozen concerned residents gathered Thursday outside the V.I. Elections Office in Crystal Gade where they officially turned in petitions to recall five members of the St. Thomas-St. John Board of Elections. Coupled with a similar move on St. Croix recently, only three members out of the 14 elected to the V.I. Joint Board of Elections have been the targets of recall petitions: Those members are Adelbert Bryan, Lawrence Boschulte and Wilma Marsh Monsanto. The rest – St. Thomas-St. John board members Alecia Wells, Lorna Thomas, Colette White-Amaro, Claudette Georges and Harry Daniel, along with St. Croix board members Rupert Ross Jr., Lisa Moorhead, Dodson James, Raymond Williams, Carmen Golden and Ana Davila – have had individual recall petitions filed against them.

US Virgin Islands: Residents seek removal of Elections Board head | Virgin Islands Daily News

A meeting of the St. Croix Board of Elections on Thursday ended with a lot of people shouting angrily at one another. It was not an uncommon ending for a meeting of the board. The board’s meetings this year have been fueled with personality clashes among board members, along with a heavy presence of vocal and at times aggressive residents – whose dissatisfaction boils over at most meetings.

Now that dissatisfaction is being focused with a petition to recall Rupert Ross Jr. Ross serves as both the chairman of the St. Croix Board of Elections and the V.I. Joint Board of Elections.

The residents, represented by Mary Moorhead, filed the petition Thursday morning with V.I. Elections Supervisor John Abramson Jr. “We’re here as a group of concerned citizens,” Moorhead said outside the Elections Office with a dozen or so people behind her. “We are concerned about a plethora of wrongdoings here in the Virgin Islands.”

US Virgin Islands: Abramson’s tenure extended in 10-3 vote | Virgin Islands Daily News

In a frenzied but semi-functional reconvened meeting of the V.I. Joint Board of Elections on Wednesday, the board reappointed the current supervisor of elections and took some long-awaited, though slightly retroactive, steps toward election reform. The meeting, which was recessed while in executive session on July 12, reconvened about 9:45 a.m., still in executive session for the purpose of discussing the position of supervisor of the V.I. Election System.

Within an hour, the board re-opened to the public, and St. Croix member Dodson James reported that they had discussed the findings of the Screening Committee, which recommended two names: current Elections Supervisor John Abramson Jr. and James Weber III.

US Virgin Islands: Joint Elections Board chairman outlines steps to move ahead Stalled reform Intimidating meetings | Virgin Islands Daily News

In a move to address many of the troubles plaguing the V.I. Joint Board of Elections, the board’s chairman held a press conference Thursday to clear the air. So far, the board’s two-year cycle has gotten off to a rocky start, and Joint Board Chairman Rupert Ross Jr. wanted to dispel the impression that little has been done to address the problems, he said.

Ross offered members of the media information about what he felt had contributed to the current state of apparent disarray and outlined how the board plans to move forward despite the obstacles. Ross discussed how he and V.I. Elections Supervisor John Abramson Jr., who was reappointed to another 8-year term by the board on Wednesday, were preparing the board for the upcoming election cycle and how they were attempting to push forward much-needed legislation in time for the 2012 elections.

Most of the Joint Board meetings this year have been dramatic affairs with a lot of back-and-forth between members. Many have ended in an uproar involving yelling matches and even threats from the public in attendance. Some board members have sought a police presence at meetings to ensure their safety.

US Virgin Islands: Members unruly behavior forces Board of Elections to end meeting | Virgin Islands Daily News

Egos erupted Tuesday at the V.I. Joint Board of Elections meeting, and it recessed after an hour without having accomplished anything substantive because members were unwilling to offer each other the courtesy of the floor – constantly interrupting and talking over one another, officials said.

After less than an hour, the majority of which was spent in executive session, members poured outside the conference room, some shouting at each other. Shortly after, the stenographer walked out because it had been impossible to accurately transcribe the meeting with members continually cutting in and talking at the same time, said Board Chairman Rupert Ross Jr.

The board will reconvene Friday morning to pick up the meeting where it left off, essentially doubling expenses paid for by taxpayers in order to fund the meeting. With flights and board member stipends, the total additional costs amount to about $2,500.