St. Thomas Elections Board violates V.I. Code, fails to certify results of primary on Sunday
Published: August 19, 2014
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ST. THOMAS - The St. Thomas-St. John District Board of Elections failed to meet the legal deadline for certifying its primary election Sunday, putting it in violation of the V.I. Code.
Unofficially, the certification has been put off until Monday, despite the potential consequences.
Any person deemed responsible for the delay of the election returns is subject to a $500 maximum fine or a year of imprisonment, or both.
Additionally, the "casting of lots" is not supposed to take place within a district unless the district has certified its election.
Elections officials said that the casting of lots, which was scheduled for today at 5:30 p.m. in both districts, likely will be moved until late August, though they also said that the decision ultimately is up to V.I. Elections Supervisor Caroline Fawkes.
V.I. Attorney General Vincent Frazer said late Monday afternoon that he is aware of the situation, but he had not spoken formally with the board.
"I'm having my staff look at the situation and see what needs to be done," Frazer said. "I haven't looked at the law yet."
While the St. Croix District Board of Elections certified its election Sunday, the last legal day to certify, it is expected to put off its casting of lots to coincide with the St. Thomas-St. John District's casting of lots.
Officials in both districts said that it makes sense for the districts to hold casting of lots simultaneously, though Fawkes could not be reached Monday to formally address the casting of lots schedule.
If the casting of lots is delayed until late August, it will derail plans to get ballots printed this week.
St. Croix's certification did not go perfectly, but the board had a quorum Sunday, and five members - Glenn Webster, Roland Moolenaar, Raymond Williams, vice chairwoman Lilliana Belardo de O'Neal and Lisa Harris Moorhead - signed off on the certification, according to the certification document.
While the numbers changed slightly in some of the races within the district, the results did not.
All candidates who unofficially were to move on to the General Election after the preliminary count maintained their places.
Incumbent Sen. Diane Capehart still came out ahead of Paul Arnold Jr., who initially lagged by 30 votes. According to official results, Capehart secured her seat with 1,473 votes, 37 more than Arnold.
St. Croix Deputy Elections Supervisor Genevieve Whitaker said the board did make a decision to not count write-ins that had an oval that was not filled in next to the written candidate's name.
The marked oval is for voters to indicate that the name written beside it is in fact the candidate for whom they want to vote.
It is common for jurisdictions across the United States to disqualify write-ins that have an oval that is not filled in next to the name, according to ES&S, the company that sold the voting machines to the Elections System and assisted it with the election.
In all, the district had more than 300 write-ins, according to Whitaker.
In the St. Croix District, 5,488 of 18,104 registered voters participated. Of those voters, 4,981 voted at the machines at the polls, and 507 voted by absentee ballot.
The St. Croix board did not issue a final breakdown of the absentee ballots Monday.
Instead, it issued a per-candidate count of votes, including the long list of write-ins, which included candidates such as Stephen Colbert, Tooth Fairy, Bullwinkle and Pocahontas.
"Smoothly, or rocky, whatever. It was certified," St. Croix Board Chairman Adelbert Bryan said Monday of the primary election.
He declined to comment further on the process of certifying the election.
However, Bryan did say that the office had filed a police report after an attempted break-in at the office, though he did not specify when it occurred, other than to say "several days ago."
He also did not specify how the board knew that there had been an attempted break-in and deferred all questions to Fawkes.
Fawkes, in turn, deferred questions to Bryan.
Bryan did state that the attempt was nothing more than an attempt and that nothing at the office was compromised.
V.I. Police spokeswoman Melody Rames said that the V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency blotter had no report of an attempted break-in at the office within the last four days.
St. Thomas-St. John
On St. Thomas, on Sunday, four of the seven board members - Board Chairman Arturo Watlington Jr.; Alecia Wells; Lydia Hendricks; and Harry Daniel - were off-island, according to board member Claudette Georges.
Georges was one of three board members who appeared Monday, the day following the deadline, to certify the St. Thomas-St. John District results.
Daniel and Larry Boschulte also were present Monday afternoon, but the three board members did not meet the requirements for a quorum. Wells, who called in via telephone to speak with the three members, said that she would not return until early September and Watlington would not return until Aug. 24.
The board members present said that they were disappointed in fellow board member, Wilma Marsh-Monsanto, because she had said that she would be present Monday.
Board members admitted that the board is in violation of the law, when their deadline officially passed per V.I. Code.
The delay was primarily a result of a discrepancy in numbers that elections officials were made aware of on Friday, when a report of the latest ballot count was generated.
Angel Bolques, St. Thomas-St. John District Board of Elections administrative assistant, noticed that the numbers were way off.
"They had gone up exponentially, almost doubled," Bolques said.
The report, officials realized, had combined the numbers from the St. Thomas-St. John district with those from St. Croix.
Additionally, the report had counted write-ins that had no marked oval next to the written name, which St. Thomas-St. John likely will not be qualifying, similarly to St. Croix.
However, St. Croix's board voted to make the decision when it had a quorum Sunday, whereas St. Thomas-St. John's board could not make the executive decision without the quorum.
All decisions regarding the final count in the St. Thomas-St. John District will be put off until the board reaches a quorum.
- Contact Jenny Kane at 714-9102 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.Registered voters: 18,104
Machine at polls votes: 4.981
Voter participation: 5,488
Voter turnout: 30.31 percent
Candidate At polls Absentee Total
Delegate to Congress
Stacey Plaskett 2,372 222 2,594
Shawn-Michael Malone 1,564 160 1,724
Emmett Hansen II 528 59 587
Donna Christensen/ 1,424 184 1,608
Basil Ottley Jr.
Adlah Donastorg Jr./ 1,083 78 1,161
Gerard Luz James II/ 705 72 777
Marvin Pickering/ 641 40 681
Gregory Francis/ 524 65 589
Patrick Simeon Sprauve
Moleto Smith Jr./ 167 12 179
Kurt Vialet 2,896 288 3,184
Novelle Francis Jr. 2,716 254 2,970
Kenneth Gittens 2,189 230 2,419
Neville James 2,149 213 2,362
Sammuel Sanes 2,035 202 2,237
Malcolm McGregor 1,719 159 1,878
Diane Capehart 1,333 140 1,473
Paul Arnold Jr. 1,303 133 1436
Collin Hodge 918 67 985
Carol Burke 883 94 977
Troy Mason 900 70 970
George Moore 687 52 739
Omar Henry 497 44 541
Eugene La Corbiniere 472 39 511
St. Croix Board of Elections
Rupert Ross Jr. 1,626 187 1,813
Raymond Williams 1,574 170 1,744
Barbara Jackson-McIntosh 1,302 134 1,436
Beverly Joseph 1,001 108 1,109
Democratic Party races
Cecil Benjamin 1,258 144 1,402
Aminah Saleem 899 96 995
Luis Morales 567 47 614
Kevin Rodriguez 240 20 260
Member At-large, territorial committee
Alicia Barnes 1,364 178 1,542
May Adams-Cornwall 1,073 166 1,239
Sonia Boyce 698 102 800
Lauretta Petersen 627 78 705
Florine Audain-Hassell 543 66 609
Dwayne Benjamin 378 58 436
District member, territorial committee
Renee McAlpin-Petersen 1,202 149 1,351
Sandra Setorie 944 117 1,061
Heather Proctor 551 77 628
Republican Party races
John Canegata 47 7 54
Herbert Schoenbohm 33 9 42
Member At-large, territorial committee
April Newland 38 4 42