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HomeNewsArchivesDrive to Recall St. Croix Senators Comes Up Short

Drive to Recall St. Croix Senators Comes Up Short

March 5, 2007 — The petition to recall four St. Croix senators has failed, falling almost 4,000 signatures short of the 8,691 threshold, Board of Elections Supervisor John Abramson said Monday.
Organizers said they were down but not out.
"Our initial reaction was to retain counsel in order to go forward and get the signatures counted differently — we will try to get the law repealed," said Michael Springer of Cruzans In Focus. "If 5,000 people voted for a senator, then the recall threshold should be 50-plus-one for that individual senator instead of how many people came out that day to vote."
BOE staff worked over the weekend to count the individual signatures, Abramson said. He explained that the signatures were only counted to determine if the petitions had the requisite number of signatures needed. If the petitioners had acquired the needed amount of signatures, then the next step for the board would have been to begin the process of verifying the signatures, according to Abramson.
In an earlier interview, Abramson said that in verifying the signatures, the board expected a vast amount of attrition, which might cause the number of valid signatures not to come out the same as those recently counted.
At that time, Abramson said signatures could be deemed not valid if they were not legible; if the signer was a convicted felon or deemed mentally ill by the court; if the signer used a name other then what is on their voter's registration card; or did not follow the directions for printing and signing their names.
Abramson said 8,691 signatures — or, two-thirds of the individuals who voted for any St. Croix senator during the 2006 General Election — had to be collected. The official BOE count has 4,714 signatures for Sen. Ronald E. Russell, 4,706 for Sen. Juan Figueroa Serville, 4,678 for Sen. Norman Jn Baptiste and 4,535 for Sen. Neville James.
Elected officials should take heed, Springer said.
"At the end of the day, the recall initiative was a test of democracy," he said. "It sent a stern message to our elected representatives that individuals in the community are no longer going to sit back and let legislation be pushed forward without accountability from our elected representatives."
The recall drive was initiated after senators passed a controversial bill during a session held at the end of December. The organizers, which included radio talk-show host Roger Morgan and recall sponsor James Hoffman, had 60 days to mount the recall, and on Feb. 27 turned in several sheets of signatures five minutes before the deadline.
By week's end, Springer said, he expects to meet with the other groups — emergency-services coalition and other organizers — that led the push for the recall.
"We're going to move forward in the next few days to decide our options and where we go from there — either another recall or court intervention," Springer said. He has already retained an attorney.
Hoffman said he knew that meeting the threshold would be hard after several petitions we're found to have been stolen. He said that he was disappointed that not many people knew of the recall effort until last week, on the day the petitions were to be submitted.
"This is what happens all the time — the people have the power, but do not exercise it until it is too late, and when something drastic happens," Hoffman said
Others are already picking up the gauntlet, he said.
"Several attorneys are getting together on their own to look at what can be done legally," Hoffman said.
And voters can always try again.
"There is nothing stopping voters from starting another recall effort," Hoffman said, adding that work has already begun on that process.
There have been two previous formal recall petitions in the Territory. The V.I. Federation of Teachers sought to recall Gov. Charles W. Turnbull, citing "incompetence" (See "St. Croix Teachers Union Seeks Turnbull's Recall"), and the United V.I. Action Coalition started a recall petition against two senators who voted to keep video-lottery terminals legal (See "VLT Foes Ask U.S. Review, Seek Recall of 2 Senators.") Both petitions were filed in 2003, and both failed to get the required number of signatures.
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