St. Thomas Elections Board finally officially certifies primary results


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ST. THOMAS - Uncertain of the legality of the board's initial "certification" last week of the St. Thomas-St. John District primary election, the board certified the election again during a meeting Monday.

Still, one board member, several candidates and several members of the public, at least, are questioning whether the election was legitimate - despite two rounds of certification.

"Anything after the deadline makes it illegal," said board member Wilma Marsh-Monsanto, the single board member present to abstain from voting to approve the official certification of the election on Monday.

Board Chairman Arturo Watlington Jr., Vice-chairman Harry Daniel, Secretary Claudette Georges, member Lydia Hendricks and member Larry Boschulte were also present and voted to certify the election.

The board initially convened in a special meeting Monday to ratify the original certification actions taken by the board, in which Daniel, Georges and Boschulte voted to certify the election a week ago, along with member Alecia Wells, who attended the meeting via teleconference and cast her vote via an electronic signature sent over a fax machine.

"You can't vote. There was not a quorum," said Watlington, who requested that the board vote again, because he did not concur with legal counsel, Kim Salisbury, that the initial vote could have been ratified this week to make it official.

Marsh-Monsanto said that she abstained from voting because, for various reasons, saying that the law had been violated because of the passed deadline, questioning Boschulte's vote because he is a candidate in the election and claiming that more than 3,000 ballots were missing.

The meeting was adjourned following Marsh-Monsanto's objections to the certification, and thereafter the board members dissolved into bickering and name-calling.

Tensions have been high since the primary election, Aug. 2, after which the board's deputy secretary, Nefrediezha Barbel, first accused Watlington of assault and then filed a police report against Georges, who filed one in return, accusing each other of harassment.

Since the latter incident, Barbel has not appeared at the St. Thomas Elections office.

The board then missed its Aug. 17 deadline to certify the primary election, with Wells stating that, though the board was prepared, the Elections System's hired machine operator, ES&S, had filed its report incorrectly of the district total count and also had not warned the board of a counting discrepancy with write-ins caused by the type of vote cast.

While the St. Croix District Board of Elections also had the write-ins issue, it resolved it immediately with a board vote.

Meanwhile, the St. Thomas-St. John District Board of Elections lacked the quorum to conduct a meeting and vote.

Four of the seven board members were off-island by the date of the certification deadline. Georges, Daniel and Boschulte were on-island and appeared for the meetings, but Marsh-Monsanto, who also was on-island, refused to participate, citing her claim of illegality in an Aug. 18 letter delivered to the board the following day.

V.I. Attorney General Vincent Frazer issued a warning notice that the board needed to certify the election as soon as possible, or the board members could face a $500 fine or up to a year of imprisonment, according to the V.I. Code.

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

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