Two of the most powerful rights citizens in a democracy have are the ability to vote and to choose who creates the laws to which they are subjected. V.I. attorney Russell Pate in September filed suit in U.S. District Court against six federal agencies to provide those two rights to the residents of the U.S. Virgin Islands. On Monday, Ronald Sharpe, U.S. Attorney for the Virgin Islands, filed to dismiss the complaint.The Federal Election Commission had already filed to dismiss on Nov. 7. Pate’s complaint seeks to give residents of the territory the ability to elect and run for the U.S. presidency. He compares territorial suffrage with the historic struggles for voting rights that required revolutionary changes to include minorities and women.
The suit targets the U.S. Federal Election Commission; U.S. Election Assistance Commission; Federal Voting Assistance Program; U.S. Commission on Civil Rights; U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division; and U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs. Sharpe’s suit seeks to dismiss “for failure to state a claim for which relief can be granted.”
Four Federal Election Commission attorneys on Nov. 7 responded to Pate’s complaint in a motion to dismiss on the grounds the commission – created in 1974 – lacks jurisdiction over the historic decisions designating those eligible to vote in federal elections.