Elections board hopeful accuses fellow candidates of petition forgery, fraud

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ST. CROIX - Allegations of forgery and swapping of petitions will be heard by the St. Croix District Elections Board next week.

In a May 26 letter to Board Chairman Adelbert Bryan and other members, Board of Elections candidate Epiphane Joseph said he had previously written to Elections Supervisor Caroline Fawkes pertaining to legitimacy of nomination petitions acquired by Nancy Paulino and former Elections Supervisor John Abramson Jr.

He said the nomination petition that Abramson picked up was returned with his name as candidate crossed out and replaced with the name Colin Hodge and Paulino's petition was returned with her name crossed out and replaced with board member Rupert Ross Jr., something Joseph believes to be fraud, or at the least unethical.

Joseph is not satisfied with Fawkes' response.

"According to Fawkes, the nomination petition is a legal instrument subject to examination for defect by herself upon the candidates filing," he said. Fawkes concluded that there is nothing illegal to investigate based on her assessment and consultation with the legal counsel, according to the document.

"Clearly Supervisor Fawkes does not recognize the act of name-forging and swapping of legal instruments such as nomination petitions as grounds to render the petition defective," he said. "Nor in her view, does the act of name-forging and petition swapping constitute an illegal act."

Joseph said he wonders if Fawkes had taken his concerns seriously, read them thoroughly or researched them diligently when she listed that her solution to the problem was instructing elections staff to more accurately control the ledger.

Joseph said law mandates the board to investigate election frauds, irregularities and violations and report suspicious circumstances to the Justice Department. He said in bringing the matter to the board, he expects that proper scrutiny will be applied formally and on the record, that proper policy be established to address the illegality of name-forging and swapping of nomination petitions, and that consequences be applied to discourage such activity.

Joseph demanded that an evidentiary hearing be scheduled and the board has agreed to hold one at 10 a.m. Monday.

In part of her report to the board during its regular meeting Wednesday, Fawkes said challenges and lawsuits are nothing personal and just a part of the process.

- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email fstokes@dailynews.vi.

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