Elections board member Marsh-Monsanto questions primary results
Published: October 10, 2012
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ST. THOMAS - As Election Day draws nearer, the validity of the St. Thomas-St. John primary election results is under attack yet again, this time by one of the St. Thomas-St. John Board of Elections' own members.
St. Thomas-St. John Board Vice Chairwoman Wilma Marsh-Monsanto sent a notarized letter to St. Thomas-St. John Board Chairwoman Alecia Wells, Joint Board Chairman Rupert Ross Jr. and V.I. Elections Supervisor John Abramson Jr. on Oct. 1 challenging the St. Thomas-St. John Board's certification of the primary results on Sept. 28.
In the letter, Marsh-Monsanto recaps the discord at that meeting, which lost its quorum shortly after it began when board members Lawrence Boschulte and Harry Daniel walked out in protest of Marsh-Monsanto's presence. Marsh-Monsanto had promised to recuse herself from board business while she campaigns for the Senate At-large seat, but she later changed her mind and has resumed normal board participation.
After walking out of the meeting but before leaving the Elections Office on Sept. 28, Boschulte and Daniel signed off on the election results.
In the complaint, Marsh-Monsanto challenges the validity of their signatures and the legal advice given to the board at the Sept. 28 meeting. The board's attorney, Kimberly Salisbury, told the board the certification signatures were valid because no one on the board asked for a quorum call after Boschulte and Daniel walked out, according to Marsh-Monsanto's letter.
Marsh-Monsanto, in an attempt to clarify the issue, contacted the nonprofit National Association of Parliamentarians, according to her complaint. That agency told Marsh-Monsanto that there is no reference to a quorum call in Robert's Rules of Order and that, because the quorum was broken, "any business conducted during the meeting is automatically null and void," according to the complaint.
"The fact that Boschulte and Daniels signed the certification results out of view, and outside of the official meeting environment that is validated only by quorum, indicates all signatures affixed to the certification of the primary election results are invalid, with the exception of Lorna Thomas, due to the fact that she appeared later, a quorum was re-established by her presence, and she signed the document in the presence of all," Marsh-Monsanto wrote.
In an interview Tuesday, Marsh-Monsanto added concerns about a recount last Friday that settled a five-vote difference between the seventh- and eighth-place finishers in the St. Thomas-St. John Democratic primary for Senate. She said that because the "partial recount" only included paper ballots and not the cartridges from electronic voting machines, it exists in a legal gray area.
"The public is being fooled," Marsh-Monsanto said. "They're going to have to say what part of the law allows them to do something like this. The question is, how do you recertify a two-part election when in fact you don't have a full count?"
The statute does not speak specifically to whether recounts can include only some of the votes cast in a contested election. The candidate who requested the recount, Jean Forde, asked for only the paper ballots cast in his race to be counted again and has said he is satisfied with the outcome.
Marsh-Monsanto said Tuesday she had not gotten a response to her complaint from the Board, but she hopes her colleagues will address her complaint at a Joint Board meeting scheduled for Thursday at 10 a.m. on St. Thomas. Neither Ross nor Wells returned calls to The Daily News on Tuesday.
Another pending complaint sent to the St. Thomas-St. John Board, the Joint Board and Abramson from Diane Magras and Harriet Mercer incorporates Marsh-Monsanto's concerns over the quorum and re-certifying the vote. Magras and Mercer added questions about inspections of the district's electronic voting machines, as well as the machines' alleged non-compliance with federal standards.
The two candidates organized an earlier complaint on which the board never took formal action. That complaint included signatures from Magras, Mercer, Jerry Meyers, Clarence Payne, Josephine Lindquist and Norma Pickard-Samuel. Candidate Marvin Blyden was listed as an electronic signatory on the original complaint and on a Sept. 24 addendum to it, but Blyden has since denied ever signing or agreeing to sign the documents.
- Contact reporter Lou Mattei at 714-9124 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.