Elections finishes counting walk-in ballots

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ST. THOMAS - Both the St. Thomas-St. John and St. Croix election districts have finished counting their walk-in ballots, according to V.I. Elections Supervisor Caroline Fawkes.

On St. Thomas, the district had a total of 797 walk-in ballots, of which they counted 170 on Sunday, Fawkes said. They finished counting the remainder by Friday, she said.

St. Croix had a total of 388, all of which they had counted as of Wednesday.

The St. Thomas board has announced a specially called meeting for Monday, just a day before the primary election is expected to be certified.

Tuesday also is the deadline for the receipt of absentee ballots.

On St. Croix, the office sent out 129 mail-in ballots, though it did not report how many it received back thus far.

On St. Thomas, 174 were mailed out, of which only 50 had been returned as of Wednesday, according to Fawkes. No update was available Friday as to the number of mail-ins returned.

Mail-in ballots must be postmarked on or before Aug. 2, though they can be received within 10 days of the primary election date.

Neither district was releasing the number of the provisional ballots it had this week, though all results are expected to be released Tuesday as the election is certified.

The count could prove to be a game-changer in several races, in particular those for seats in the Senate.

On St. Thomas, Sean Georges and Sen. Clarence Payne III were on the cusp of the seventh slot, with Marvin Blyden beating them by less than 100 votes at 1,622.

Georges, who was ousted from the General Election after receiving 1,575 votes, could technically still be in the race. Payne, who received 1,529 votes in the primary, is still within range to hang on to his seat.

On St. Croix, incumbent Sen. Diane Capehart came out ahead of Paul Arnold Jr. by just 30 votes, the difference between 1,333 and 1,303. If the two trade places, Capehart would be bumped out of the race and lose her seat.

It is unlikely that any of the other races could see any significant changes in their results.

The Donna Christensen-Basil Ottley Jr. ticket prevailed by more than 900 votes over the closest challenger in the gubernatorial race, and Stacey Plaskett beat Shawn-Michael Malone by more than 700 votes in the race for the delegate to Congress seat.

Before the board releases updated results Tuesday, the St. Thomas-St. John District Board of Elections is expected to meet Monday, according to board Chairman Arturo Watlington Jr.

Watlington suggested to the district's deputy supervisor, Nefrediezha Barbel, that the meeting could concern her employment.

Barbel wrote a letter to Fawkes on Wednesday stating that Watlington has been trying to oust her from her position and asked Fawkes to intervene.

Fawkes, who was hired by the Joint Board of Elections, said that she does not have the authority to preserve Barbel's position or to terminate her, because Barbel also was hired by the Joint Board.

Watlington on Wednesday called Barbel incompetent, and Barbel said that he has been threatening, disrespectful and unlawful in his behavior toward her.

Watlington confirmed Friday that there would be a meeting Monday, though no formal agenda had been issued by press time Friday. However, the Elections office gave notice Friday that the meeting would be held at 11 a.m. at the St. Thomas office for the V.I. Elections System in Lockhart Gardens.

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

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