Nov. 27, 2002 – In the wake of the landslide re-election of Gov. Charles W. Turnbull this month, two St. Croix residents are questioning election procedures and requesting an investigation into the integrity of the voting tabulations overall, alleging that the results might have been rigged.
Hope Gibson, an unsuccessful senatorial candidate, and Juliete Liburd, president of the Crucian Coalition, a grass-roots political organization, sent a 12-page "inquiry" to Supervisor of Elections John Abramson and the territory's two district Boards of Elections last week.
In the document, the women make the argument that the election results drastically contradict the pre-election environment — marred by reports of government corruption and economic problems — and "clearly represented a completely different set of voter expectations."
"More specifically, the majority of incumbents blamed by their constituents for their unfortunate plight were not predictably removed" [by the voters], the document said.
It went on to say that incumbent and "like-minded" individuals were re-elected, "in spite of the overwhelming and long-standing public dissatisfaction, frustration and suspicion surrounding their official pre-election performance, personal conduct and network of associations."
The women charge that it is possible that the vote outcomes may have been arranged, because public officials' "desire for personal gain prohibits them from leaving election outcomes up to chance."
The "inquiry" includes a list of more than 100 questions about the election process and procedures that are directed to Abramson and the Boards of Elections. Gibson said copies of the document were delivered last week to the Election System office on St. Croix for distribution to the board members and Abramson. As of Monday afternoon, she said, "I've heard absolutely nothing" in response. She said that "several board members were unaware that the inquiry was left for them. We've gotten no response; we're getting stonewalled."
Gibson said she wants to see an investigation of the election, but "it appears we're not going to get a response." She added, "This is not going to go away. I cannot talk about future steps we'll be taking on it."
In their document, Gibson and Liburd asked that the election results not be certified until an inquiry is conducted into the alleged irregularities. The two Boards of Elections have five days after the tabulation of absentee ballots to certify the election results. For the Nov. 5 general election, that deadline came and went on Friday without certification being announced.
According to a Friday evening radio news report, at least one St. Thomas-St. John Board of Elections member is refusing to approve certification of the results, because of questions regarding their validity.
Abramson, reported to be on vacation, could not be reached for comment. But Attorney General Iver Stridiron said even if certification is held up, the election results will not change.
"Certification is really, at that juncture, a ministerial function or a formality," Stridiron said. Failure to certify, he said, "is not fatal to the election process, although it's not recommended."
Stridiron said he intends to investigate the matter "post haste."
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