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Tuesday, August 16, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesLegislature Adjusts Election Calendar to Meet Federal Law

Legislature Adjusts Election Calendar to Meet Federal Law

Updates will be made to the V.I. election calendar and to dates for filing nominations, casting lots and runoff elections in order to meet the requirements of the federal Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, known as UOCAVA, once legislation approved by the Senate on Wednesday is signed into law.

In 2012 the U.S. government went to court to force the territory to comply with the terms of UOCAVA, which requires states and territories to transmit absentee ballots to military and other overseas voters at least 45 days before primary and general elections.

In September of 2012, the V.I. Joint Board of Elections entered into a consent decree with the federal government over the issue. The 29th V.I. Legislature passed legislation making some of the necessary changes in 2012. Those changes take effect in 2014, but several other dates also needed to be changed in V.I. law to allow the territory to meet federal mandates and to have sufficient time to prepare ballots and prepare for the election.

The 30th Legislature convened a hearing of the Committee of the Whole, and Supervisor of Elections Caroline Fawkes testified that the dates needed to be changed by Oct. 31 and that she supported legislation to make the date changes.

Fawkes also testified that there were 43 additional changes to the law that the territory’s two boards of elections had submitted to the Legislature on several occasions since 2005 that were not as immediately pressing. But "if we don’t address the other 43 reform measures we will be stifling the Election System process," she said.

The legislation approved Wednesday changed:
– the filing time for nomination to the second Tuesday in May by 6 p.m.;
– the withdrawal date of candidates to the fourth Wednesday in May;
– casting of lots to the fourth Friday in May;
– registering emblems for political parties to the first Tuesday in July;
– and changing the timing of special elections to fill vacant offices to "not less than 60 days" after the date the position becomes vacant.

The Legislature passed the measure unanimously.

It also special ordered onto the agenda and approved a bill sponsored by Sen. Craig Barshinger appropriating $1.5 million from the St. John Capital Improvement Fund for road work and capital improvements on St. John. Of that, $500,000 is earmarked for particularly storm damaged sections of road on Route 10 in Coral Bay and $1 million to the V.I. Waste Management Authority for a trash convenience center on St. John.

The Legislature approved the bill with 14 senators voting yea. Sen. Nereida "Nellie" Rivera-O’Reilly was absent at the time of the vote.

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