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Thursday, April 18, 2024
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Elections Board Member Withholds Report Over Unpaid Expenses

Adelbert Bryan, a member of the Joint Board of Elections from St. Croix, refused to give a report on election reform developed by the committee he chairs because he hasn’t been reimbursed his travel expenses for attending committee meetings held prior to the board’s first formal meeting.

A dozen members of the 14-member Joint Board met Wednesday at the Battery on St. John.

After listening to Bryan’s numerous remarks on the payment issue and other topics throughout the three-and-a-half-hour meeting, Wilma Marsh Monsanto, a committee member from the St. Thomas/St. John District, had had enough.

“When we were running for office, every one of us indicated we wanted election reform,” Monsanto began.

She went on to say that she’d like to get paid too, but that the information in the report concerns ballots and voting machines that are crucial to discuss because “people” are coming in June to unveil new voting machines.

“We accomplished nothing at this meeting. I don’t see us acting as adults,” she said.

In discussing the matter of payment, Board Chairman Rupert Ross Jr. said that he was not chairman when those committee meetings occurred. Additionally, then Chairman Raymond J. Williams, who is still a board member, said he didn’t authorize any committee meetings.

In discussing other items on the agenda, Ross announced that anyone who wishes to apply for the positions of Elections Office supervisor and St. Croix deputy supervisor have until May 27 to apply. John Abramson currently holds the supervisor’s position and Corrine Plaskett, the deputy supervisor’s job.

Ross said after the meeting that the majority of the board decided not to renew contracts for Abramson or Plaskett. He hedged when asked why the two were going to be replaced but did note that the board wanted to open the positions up to new applicants.

In discussing a bill recently signed into law by acting Gov. Gregory Francis, Lisa Harris-Moorhead said that the board needs funding to pay for the paper ballots allowed by the law.

“There is nothing in the budget that allows us,” she said.

Abramson said the board would have to make a policy decision and find the additional funding.

The Board also briefly discussed a pending piece of legislation that would allow people convicted of one felony to vote again after they’ve served their sentence and finished their parole. Currently they must wait one year. The same bill takes out a provision that makes people with two convictions wait 10 years to vote.

In discussing actions taken at an earlier meeting by the St. Thomas/St. John board, Chairman Alecia M. Wells said that the board agreed that the Oswald Harris Court polling place would again be used. The board had previously announced it would not be used but changed its mind after receiving a petition.

The board did pass a measure that calls for amplified sound at their meetings after some of the six members of the public who attended the meeting complained they couldn’t hear the proceedings.

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