Published: August 30, 2012
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ST. CROIX - The V.I. Elections System does not anticipate being able to restore its website - which some residents use to follow election results - in time for the territory's primary election on Sept. 8.
The website administrator has taken the site offline to try and collect past-due payments that total less than $1,000, but the V.I. government isn't paying the invoices because the contract with the website administrator expired in July.
Officials on Wednesday would not speculate whether the agency's website, www.vivote.gov, might be functional in time for the General Election in November.
On Wednesday, the site contained the image of a Virgin Islands flag and an "Election System of the Virgin Islands" heading.
Underneath that was the notation: "Site off-line. Delinquent account. Please contact webmaster to pay overdue invoices."
Elections officials on Wednesday acknowledged some past due invoices with a previous vendor; however, the system also does not currently have a website administrator under contract. Officials said the government is in the process of contracting with a new vendor.
In addition to providing general information for voters, the www.vivote.gov website also has provided a way in the past for residents to monitor results on election night as the votes are counted, and the website is updated with those results in real time.
Elections Supervisor John Abramson Jr. said Wednesday he does not think the contracting process for a new website administrator will be finished before the primary.
"There's nothing I can do. It's a Catch-22," Abramson said. The agency cannot break the law, and the work cannot be done without a contract, he said.
The V.I. Property and Procurement Department is handling the contracting process, and Abramson said he has no control over how quickly that is accomplished.
"We have a vendor selected, and the vendor hasn't produced all the necessary documentation that Property and Procurement requires," Abramson said.
The needed documentation includes showing proof of carrying liability insurance with the government as the beneficiary, Abramson said.
The request for proposals process took longer than expected because the initial RFP for a website administrator received no responses, according to Abramson. A reissued RFP received a single response, the vendor who was selected, he said.
The vendor who had the website administration contract before had no interest in doing it again, Abramson said.
However, that is the vendor who currently has the message up on the website about the delinquent account.
Deputy Supervisor of Elections James Weber III said that the contract for the previous website administrator ended on July 1, and the outstanding invoices are for services rendered in May and June.
Those invoices, he said, were not presented to him until after the contract expired.
"Property and Procurement is refusing to pay because the contract is now over," Weber said.
Weber would not say specifically how much the Election System owes the contractor, but said it was less than $1,000.
Weber said he is hoping to work the matter out.
Abramson said it is unclear whether the website will be up and running in time for the General Election in November.
"I don't want to speculate. It's really out of my control," he said.
Elections also is not planning to use the system of setting up a big screen television outside for monitoring the election results as votes are counted, which has been done in the past, Abramson said.
The financially struggling agency simply does not have the money and cannot afford it, he said.
- Contact Joy Blackburn at 714-9145 or e-mail email@example.com.