Elections lags, fails to certify primary elections

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ST. THOMAS - Despite claims that the territory's primary elections in both districts would be certified Tuesday, they were not.

While both districts continued counting late into Tuesday night, V.I. Elections Supervisor Caroline Fawkes said that it was unlikely that the final results would be certified until today, or possibly later in the week.

They also were not revealing numbers of all the walk-in, mail-in and provisional ballots at stake, nor were they revealing results, including those of several Senate candidates whose fates hang in the balance.

The boards have until Aug. 17 to certify the elections.

Last week, internal strife between St. Thomas-St. John Deputy Supervisor Nefredieza Barbel and district board Chairman Arturo Watlington Jr. marked the counting process in the St. Thomas-St. John office.

The district board called a special meeting Monday to discuss personnel matters and other issues, and ultimately voted to pass a recommendation to the Joint Board of Elections regarding Barbel's future employment with the V.I. Elections System.

As of press time Tuesday, both districts had counted their walk-in and mail-in ballots, though the St. Croix District still was going through an unspecified number of ballots that the machines were unable to read, and also were tallying ballots with write-in candidates.

The St. Croix District planned on completing both the unreadables and the write-ins, as well as its provisional ballots by Tuesday's end.

The St. Thomas-St. John District simultaneously was sorting through its provisional ballots.

The districts had slightly differing approaches to the count, as the St. Thomas-St. John District counted its unreadable ballots with the rest of the ballots, rather than in a separate count, Fawkes said.

As of Tuesday, the St. Croix District had 388 walk-ins and 120 of the 129 mail-ins that were sent out had been returned. Tuesday was the deadline to receive mail-ins, which had to be postmarked by Aug. 2.

The St. Croix office reported an undetermined number of provisional ballots.

In the St. Thomas-St. John District, the Elections office reported 797 walk-in ballots and 57 provisional ballots, of which six were disqualified and one had no votes. As a result, 50 provisional ballots were counted.

Barbel did not know the number of mail-in ballots received as of Tuesday night at the time of the count, but the office reported sending out 174.

The finalized count could make or break the chances for a number of Senate candidates.

On St. Thomas, Sean Georges and Sen. Clarence Payne III are 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, also is still within range to keep his Senate 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.

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

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