Fifteen days after election, St. Thomas certifies results


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ST. THOMAS - In one last meeting defined by delay and controversy, the St. Thomas-St. John Board of Elections on Wednesday night certified its results from the Nov. 6 General Election, a full 15 days after the polls closed.

Board member Lawrence Boschulte said the meeting, which was not publicly advertised, in violation of V.I. law, was scheduled to start about 5 or 5:30 p.m. A quorum of four board members was present by about 6 p.m., but the members could take no action until 7:40 p.m., as staff continued to add vote tallies from nearly two weeks of counting more than 1,500 paper ballots.

The subsequent short-lived meeting in which all of the board members except Claudette Georges and Wilma Marsh-Monsanto, who were absent, voted to certify the election results was punctuated by yet another clash with voters attempting to question the board's handling of the election.

Prior to the meeting, unsuccessful Board of Elections candidate Diane Magras asked board Chairwoman Alecia Wells for permission to address the board ahead of the certification vote. Magras and fellow ex-candidate Harriet Mercer submitted a letter Tuesday asking the board to delay certifying the results based on a wide range of claims of improprieties throughout the election cycle.

Wells initially told Magras she would not be allowed to address the board to supplement the concerns in her letter with verbal comments.

"When is the lawsuit coming?" Wells retorted when Magras began listing some of her complaints.

The chairwoman later said she would let the board decide whether to allow Magras to speak.

Shortly after the meeting convened, Magras stood in preparation to address the board.

"No, if they start doing that, I'm going to leave," board member Harry Daniel said. "I always say this, but the public is here to observe, not to get involved in our deliberations."

Daniel then moved to certify the election results. Immediately after the motion was approved, he moved to have the board adjourn "sine die," meaning without returning to meet before the new board takes office. Board members Lorna Thomas and Colette White-Amaro voted against the motion, but it passed, 3-2, with the support of Daniel, Wells and Boschulte.

"Ladies and gentlemen, take care and Happy Thanksgiving to all," Daniel said as he abruptly stood and walked out of the room.

Magras, in turn, doubled-down on her critique of the board, calling for a new election in light of "multiple violations" in the primary and general elections that remain unaddressed by the board or the V.I. Elections System.

"We should be entitled to a new election," she said.

Marsh-Monsanto, who was present prior to the start of the meeting, said she could not vote in good conscience to certify the results because of all the unresolved allegations. She then leveled harsh words at her colleagues.

"This is nothing but a Mickey Mouse contest, a pineapple upside-down cake," she said. "We're dealing with an election, man. We're not dealing with a half-baked pie."

Marsh-Monsanto also alluded to a scheduled audit of the Elections System by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission and an ongoing investigation by the V.I. Attorney General's Office that arose out of citizen complaints about the process.

"Let the feds take a big yellow band and put it around the building," Marsh-Monsanto said outside the Elections Office.

When asked later how the sine die adjournment could affect the board's ability to deal with any issues that may arise as these investigations progress, Boschulte smiled.

"That's a good question," he said. "I don't know."

- Contact reporter Lou Mattei at 714-9124 or email lmattei@dailynews.vi.

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