V.I. Elections mails overseas absentee ballots 2 weeks late

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V.I. Elections Supervisor Caroline Fawkes issued a statement Monday that overseas absentee ballots were mailed out.

The ballots are being sent the address that has been provided, according to Fawkes.

The ballots sent out Monday were issued past the mandated time period as per the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act and were supposed to be sent out by June 17.

"Ballots have been issued late for reasons beyond our control as we transition to a new system which required an extensive review and editing of the ballots which caused delay," Fawkes said in a prepared statement.

Of the six absentee applicants in the St. Croix and St. Thomas-St. John districts who fall under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, only three applied on or before the June 17, according to Fawkes.

During an emergency meeting of the St. Thomas-St. John Board of Elections on Friday, board members found out that the Elections System had failed to mail out the ballots on time, violating a federal consent decree.

The U.S. Attorney's Office had asked the V.I. Attorney General's Office to check on the status of sending out ballots for the Aug. 2 primary election in the territory, at which point the territorial office discovered that the ballots had not yet been finalized.

The board initially finalized the ballots in a June 13 meeting, though members at Friday's emergency board meeting said they were surprised to find that changes needed to be made when they attended a June 16 meeting.

Three days later, the board convened for the second time that week and discovered that the board missed the deadline and still had small edits to make to the ballots.

On Friday, the V.I. Elections System approved a final ballot, said St. Thomas-St. John Deputy Elections Supervisor Nefrediezha Barbel.

She said it would take two days - Friday and Saturday included - to print the ballots, after which point, the company handling the territory's ballots, ES&S, would expedite their delivery to the board.

The Elections System website posted a notice of recognition that it had not met the June 17 deadline, which reflects a local statute requiring the government to provide servicemen and women with ballots within 45 days of the territory's primary election.

The federal ballots allow them to vote for the territory's congressional delegate.

This year, as a paper-saving measure, the federal ballot and territorial ballot will be combined.

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