Five unsuccessful candidates file complaint in District Court


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ST. THOMAS - The territory's 2012 General Election is headed to court.

More than three months after candidates began raising questions and complaints about how the election was conducted, five unsuccessful candidates from the 2012 election filed a complaint in District Court on Tuesday afternoon.

Senatorial candidate Lawrence Olive, Senate At-large candidate Wilma Marsh-Monsanto, Delegate to Congress candidate Norma Pickard-Samuel and Board of Elections candidates Harriet Mercer and Diane Magras jointly filed the lawsuit.

Each party is acting "pro se" and representing him or herself.

Listed as defendants are the Joint Board of Elections; the St. Croix and St. Thomas-St. John District Boards of Elections, along with their respective chairpersons, Rupert Ross Jr. and Alecia Wells; and Elections Supervisor John Abramson Jr.

At the heart of the complaint are allegations that the defendants violated the federal Help America Vote Act and local laws requiring the use of only voting machines certified by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

"Plaintiffs believe Defendants have infringed upon voters' fundamental right to vote, fair and transparent elections and to equal protection," the lawsuit states. "It is anticipated that voters or other candidates will be similarly aggrieved by Defendants' actions in the future absent injunctive relief."

The lawsuit references a number of sections of five federal and local laws, including federal case law prohibiting the use of ballots that the defendants knew to be "materially deficient" and V.I. Act 7334, signed into law Dec. 28, 2011, which requires the use of only EAC-certified voting machines.

"Plaintiffs have witnessed and decried, at election board meetings, and on public airwaves, prior to the 2012 primary election, misconduct of Defendants that is adverse or contrary to the interests of the public, that is less than a standard of honesty and full disclosure, does not insure the integrity and sanctity of election processes and vote outcomes, that is contrary to the rights if voters are to be respected and protected at all times," the complaint states.

The complaint also alleges that the plaintiffs have witnessed the defendants "trample on the rights of voters" and shown an "unwillingness and inability" to implement best practices to mitigate the exposure of the Elections System "to subversion by fraud, corruption and mistake."

The former candidates also list numerous written complaints and requests for redress that they have filed and, the candidates claim, that elections officials have ignored.

The complaint argues the defendants "are entitled to the award of a new election by default" after the St. Thomas-St. John Board of Elections failed last week to establish a quorum to rule on the complainants' most recent petition Dec. 3 asking for a recount or a new election.

"Based on the above, Plaintiffs believe the legitimacy and integrity of the general election results, in terms of vote tabulation and certification, are cast in serious doubt," the complaint states. "The outcome of the vote tabulation is independently unverifiable and indeterminable as an accurate metric that reflects the will of the voter."

The complaint seeks, among other things, a declaration that the general election violated federal and local law and that the St. Thomas-St. John Board's lack of a quorum to address the recount petition constitutes an "abandonment of post" and thereby denied the plaintiffs due process.

Lastly it asks the court to issue an order "to conduct a new election on a one-page paper ballot, to be counted at the polls on election night, in public view, until all ballots are counted."

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

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