The St. Croix Board of Elections held an emergency meeting Monday to go over the general election ballot, correct typos, discuss fonts and print colors, voting to make several corrections and minor changes to the St. Croix-specific ballot items. Members of the St. Thomas/St. John district board of elections met informally to discuss the ballot, but did not call a meeting and took no official action.
After the meeting was called to order shortly after 10 a.m. on St. Croix, Board Chairman Adelbert Bryan said the emergency meeting was necessary to makes sure Supervisor of Elections Caroline Fawkes had what she needed from the St. Croix board so the ballots will be ready to submit to a printer Thursday.
"To be compliant with the deadline, we have to complete this situation here this morning," Bryan said.
Members passed around successive draft versions of the ballot. One version inadvertently left V.I. Legislature candidate Jamilah Russell off the ballot, which members corrected after a few jokes about Bryan having a "Freudian slip."
In another instance, a sentence had the phrase "choice of candidate" repeated. Bryan and other members wanted to change the ballot numbers on St. Croix for the at-large/St. John Senate seat to 1 and 2, rather than the 6 and 7 drawn during the casting of the lots. After phone calls to the two candidates to get their approval, they added that to a short list of changes. The abbreviated ICM designation was changed to "Independent Citizens Movement."
Member Liliana Belardo de O’Neal helped the board clarify Spanish language instructions.
Member Raymond Williams moved for the board to approve these amendments to the draft ballot and Bryan, members Glenn Webster, Roland Moolenaar and Raymond Williams voted to approve the amendments. Belardo voted no. Ross and member Lisa Harris were absent.
Sen. Alicia "Chucky" Hansen’s name remained off the ballot and her candidacy was not discussed during the meeting. A recent V.I. Supreme Court opinion recently found Hansen ineligible to run, concluding her convictions for willful failure to file an income tax return met the definition of moral turpitude as determined by court precedent. Gov. John deJongh Jr. then pardoned Hansen, saying the voters should decide.
Fawkes said Monday her understanding was the pardon would only affect Hansen going forward, from the date of the pardon, too late to help Hansen get back on the ballot now. If a court orders Hansen back on, they will adjust the ballot, she said. Meanwhile, one of the issues the board needs to address is its policy for write in campaigns, and what spelling variations would be accepted if Hansen mounts a write-in campaign, Fawkes said after the St. Croix meeting.
No meeting was held and no official actions or votes were taken on St. Thomas, but members met informally to discuss ballot issues, that district’s board chairman, Arturo Watlington Jr., said Monday evening.
Watlington said he and several members of the St. Thomas/St. John board believe there is "a technical issue that needs to be resolved" with the ballot before it goes to the printer. He emphasized that the ballots will not be finalized until the joint boards of elections approves them. Another district meeting would likely be called before Thursday to address it, but a meeting has not been called yet, Watlington said.
Editor’s Note: This article has been changed to correct the name of the person who was accidentally left off one version of a draft of the ballot, before the mistake was caught. That person was Jamila Russell.