Recall Election a First for USVI

Supervisor of Elections John Abramson.A special election will be held in the next 30 to 60 days to recall four members of the St. Croix District Board of Elections, the first time in the history of the U.S. Virgin Islands a recall election has been held, according to Supervisor of Elections John Abramson.

"This is all history," Abramson said at a press conference Tuesday to announce the findings.
“We have never had a recall petition reach this level before.”

When and how that election will be held, and how the $350,000 vote will be paid for, have yet to be determined.

Abramson announced Tuesday afternoon that his office staff had validated the signatures of enough registered voters to hold the recall election. Facing recall will be board members Ana L. "Anita" Davila, Carmen Golden, Lisa Harris-Moorhead and Dodson James. All four had been elected during the 2008 general election.

The petitioners failed to collect enough signatures to force a recall election for two other board members – Chairman Rupert Ross and Raymond Williams.

The petitions were turned in 15 days ago and Abramson praised the work of his staff, which had to check each name, whether that person was a registered voter at the proper address and whether the signature was valid.

In all the staff had to validate 17,387 signatures, the supervisor said, thanking them for its "herculean effort" to process the ballots by the deadline.

The filing of the petitions led to a disagreement between the petitioners and Abramson over how many were required to force the election. The supervisor said his reading of the law would have required a much higher number.

While he did not cede the issue Tuesday, saying he still believes his interpretation is correct, he followed the methodology of the petitioners at the advice of the Attorney General, who serves as counsel for the Department of Elections.

Under that standard, the petitioners had to gather signatures representing 50 percent of the number of people who voted for the official. According to the figures released Tuesday by Abramson, the results of the petition drive were:

Davila: 1,777 signatures needed, 2,379 signatures validated out of 2,894 turned in.

Golden: 1,839 needed, 2,383 validated out of 2,895.

Harris-Moorhead: 1,543 needed, 2,446 out of 2,943 validated.

James: 2,124 needed, 2,415 out of 2,866 validated.

Ross: 2,858 needed, 2,452 out of 2,913 validated.

Williams: 2,707 needed, 2,452 out of 2,876 validated.

As to what happens next, Abramson said this is uncharted territory for the Virgin Islands. The law calls for an election to be held "not earlier than 30 days after a vote of the Legislature … or a determination of the Board of Elections …. and not later than 60 days after such vote or determination."

"Clearly someone has to do something," the supervisor said, so he is sending word of his finding to both the Senate and the Board of Elections.

His own job, to this point, is done, he said, until one of those two bodies sets an election date. But he also noted that no money has been appropriated by the Senate for his office to conduct an election when one is called.

"There’s no money in the coffers for it," he said.

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