St. Thomas-St. John Board of Elections decides details of recount
Published: October 3, 2012
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ST. THOMAS - The St. Thomas-St. John District Board of Elections will recount almost 600 paper ballots Friday to see whether the district Senate race will change.
The Democratic primary race for the St. Thomas-St. John District Senate seat is very close, with only five votes separating seventh-place finisher Justin Harrigan Sr. from eighth-place candidate Jean Forde.
Forde wrote to the board last week requesting the recount.
The board voted Monday to do the recount and held a meeting Tuesday to hammer out the details.
At Tuesday's meeting, the board got Elections Supervisor John Abramson Jr. on the phone to answer some questions.
The board wanted to know who would pay for the recount. Board chairwoman Alecia Wells said it may cost about $600 - $100 for each of the six election judges who will actually do the counting. The counting will begin at 8:30 a.m. and will go until they finish, probably late in the evening, Wells said.
Abramson said the last recount he could remember was in 1986. He said the V.I. Code does not address the issue of who pays but that he would do some research to see what was done last time and whether there are regulations that address the matter.
Wells said it would make sense for the petitioner - Forde - to pay.
"Tomorrow, we should definitely know who pays for the recount," Wells said Tuesday.
Board member Lorna Thomas asked whether the press should be allowed inside the counting room.
"That's really a judgement call," Abramson said.
The board decided that each Senate candidate or their designee will be allowed inside the counting room. If a designee will be at the recount, board members said the candidate should send a letter in writing stating who will be there on the candidate's behalf.
According to the board, 597 ballots must be recounted.
Board member Claudette Georges said 295 paper ballots were cast on Election Day. The board also counted 210 absentee walk-in ballots, 48 mail-in absentee ballots and 44 provisional ballots.
Harrigan asked whether that included the three challenged - but ultimately counted - military absentee ballots that were faxed or emailed in. Wells said after the meeting that the total count did include those ballots.
Harrigan said he was surprised that the board voted to do the recount, because he did not think Forde's concerns about the process were enough to warrant a recount.
"But it's a good thing you did because then we can put this thing to rest," he said. "It wasn't amiss, because I sat right here and observed it."
Georges volunteered to help with Friday's count. She was a candidate for the Senate race in question but was unsuccessful, coming in 14th out of 20. Only the top seven Democratic candidates can advance to run in the General Election on Nov. 6.
Georges had not previously participated in the primary election or the counting of primary ballots but volunteered to help because she is officially out of the race now.
Nothing in the V.I. Code prohibits Elections board members from participating in elections duties while running as a candidate for office, but many people stop attending meetings if they are running for public office in order to prevent any conflict of interest.
Tuesday, board member Lawrence Boschulte walked out of the meeting in protest - for the third meeting in a row - because member Wilma Marsh Monsanto, who is running for the Senate At-large seat in the General Election, was in attendance.
Monsanto originally had sent a letter to the board recusing herself during the election season, but she has rescinded the letter and has been attending meetings.
Boschulte and Wells also both are running for re-election to the Board of Elections in the General Election, but they have not formally recused themselves from board actions.
- Contact reporter Aldeth Lewin at 714-9111 or email email@example.com.