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HomeNewsArchivesJoint Boards of Elections Uphold Ottley Candidacy

Joint Boards of Elections Uphold Ottley Candidacy

The V.I. Joint Boards of Elections voted to sustain Basil Ottley Jr.’s candidacy for lieutenant governor at a special meeting at Gertrude’s Restaurant Tuesday. Supervisor of Elections Caroline Fawkes described to the members her vetting process and how she determined Ottley met residency requirements, according to Elections officials and board members at the meeting. The board then voted to sustain the supervisor’s original decision.

Gubernatorial candidate Moleto Smith Jr. had asked the Elections System to reconsider its decision to keep Ottley on the upcoming primary and general election ballots. Smith wrote a letter in early July questioning whether Ottley meets local residency requirements.

According to V.I. law, candidates for governor and lieutenant governor have to be bona fide residents of the Virgin Islands and eligible to vote in the territory for five years preceding the election. That means Ottley would have had to be living in the USVI since 2009, but Smith has contended that Ottley was living on the mainland during that time and did not move back to the territory until the summer of 2010.

Ottley was a V.I. senator from 2006 to 2008 and, since then, has worked as the principal V.I. official in the U.S. Interior Department’s Office of Insular Affairs.

The joint boards also reviewed the territory’s runoff policy, which the U.S. Department of Justice requires for federal elections. The meeting was called on short notice because the July 31 federal deadline for submitting the runoff policy is fast approaching.

In the past, V.I. law covering runoffs was sufficient, but recent changes to federal law made it so "now the process is technically in conflict with federal law, so they asked us to come up with a policy by the end of July," said St. Croix Board of Elections member Rupert Ross after the meeting. The boards made some minor changes to the policy and voted to authorize Fawkes to make the final modifications and submit the plan before the deadline, Ross said.

The change is to come into conformity with federal law, but Ross thinks the runoff policy is unlikely to be used this year. "Based on the current scenario, we do not anticipate a runoff in the delegate’s election for 2014," Ross said.

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