Candidates draw lots for ballot positions


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ST. THOMAS - Candidates were in high spirits Thursday after pulling their numbers for the casting of lots in the St. Thomas-St. John District.

The numbers determine what order the candidates' names will be listed on the ballots come the Nov. 4 General Election.

"Number one!" said Soraya Diase-Coffelt, a gubernatorial candidate who was not sure weeks ago that she would even get to choose a number.

In an order issued Aug. 1, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted an injunction against removing the gubernatorial ticket of Coffelt and running mate John Canegata from the ballot for the territory's General Election.

The candidates are appealing a ruling by Chief District Judge Wilma Lewis, who upheld the decision Elections Supervisor Caroline Fawkes made in May to strike them from the ballot because Canegata is a registered Republican and Coffelt is not affiliated with any political party.

"We're waiting for an opinion," Coffelt said Thursday, noting that until a court opinion is issued she will be conducting her campaign just the same as the other candidates.

There is no indication when the opinion will be released, though it is expected before the General Election.

"Number 16. I feel 16," said Lawrence Olive, who is running for a Senate seat as a no-party candidate.

Two St. Thomas-St. John Board of Elections candidates, Diane Magras and Harriet Mercer, decided to let Fawkes draw their numbers because they said that they were uncomfortable with the continuing process because they questioned the integrity of the primary election held Aug. 2.

Fawkes conducted the drawing, which took place two days after it was scheduled following delays by the St. Thomas-St. John Board of Elections in certifying the district's primary results, finally doing so during a specially called meeting 17 days after the election took place.

Fawkes also drew lots for candidates who were absent, plucking the numbers out of a wooden box.

Harry Daniel, St. Thomas-St. John District Board of Elections vice-chairman, scrambled the numbers between each pick by flipping the box several times.

The candidates who were present then would choose their number in order of who filed their nomination packages first. Those who filed first picked their numbers first, as is customary, according to Fawkes.

The casting of lots initially was scheduled for Tuesday, though it was delayed after the belated certification of the primary election. The certification was held off until Tuesday, though it legally was required to be done by Sunday.

The St. Thomas-St. John District Board of Elections certified the election with three present board members - Daniel, Claudette Georges and Larry Boschulte - and one off-island, Alecia Wells, who was away at a conference but phoned in to the meeting.

The board must ratify the certification at its next official board meeting.

- Contact Jenny Kane at 714-9102 or email jkane@dailynews.vi.

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