During a short, contentious meeting Monday evening, the St. Croix Board of Elections voted to approve the ballot including Sen. Alicia "Chucky" Hansen’s name on it, the ballot that Supervisor of Elections Caroline Fawkes sent to the printers Friday.
St. Croix Board Chairman Adelbert Bryan called the meeting on an emergency basis and the agenda had two items: "Apparent changes in Ballot by Supervisor Fawkes" and "Decision for Legal Representation for St. Croix District Board of Elections and Supervisor of Elections.”
The U.S. District Court issued an order Friday morning directing Fawkes to place Hansen’s name on the ballot. Fawkes followed the court order and sent the thus-modified ballots to the printer Friday, for a lot of 1,000 military and absentee ballots. Reached Monday afternoon, Fawkes said, "This really only affects a handful of absentee and military ballots," while most of the ballots will be going to the printer in October, "so if the verdict changes, we will change it."
Bryan filed the lawsuit that led to the V.I. Supreme Court to declare Hansen ineligible to serve in late August. The court ruled in favor of Bryan’s position that Hansen’s three convictions for willful failure to file tax returns constitute moral turpitude, rendering her ineligible. But Gov. John deJongh Jr. subsequently pardoned Hansen, saying she had been reelected after serving her sentence, and the voters should have the final say. Then on Friday, a U.S. District Court ruled that Hansen’s pardon meant she was eligible again and ordered her back on the ballot.
Bryan argued to the board that Fawkes had no authority to change the ballot without prior authorization from the St. Croix Board of Elections. Member Rupert Ross moved to approve the ballot as modified by Fawkes.
"How do you approve it while a court case is ongoing?" Bryan asked.
"How do I approve it? By voting yes," Ross said.
Voting to approve Fawkes’ changes to the ballot were Ross, Lisa Harris, Raymond Williams and Glenn Webster. Voting no were Bryan and Roland Moolenaar. Member Liliana Belardo de O’Neal was absent.
"I want it on the record that … the court ordered the supervisor to change the ballot Friday and she did that. Otherwise she would have been in contempt of court," Webster said after the vote.
"I am not arguing with what you are saying on that," Bryan said, continuing to say that Fawkes should have gotten permission from the board and should have been at Monday’s meeting.
Raymond Williams asked at the outset of the meeting what the agenda item referring to "decision for legal representation" meant.
Bryan said he objected to the fact that the legal representation for the board was the V.I. Attorney General and no side argued for his position: that Hansen should not be on the ballot.
"It is clear you cannot have collective representation with two attorneys advocating for the same outcome," Bryan said.
U.S. District Judge Wilma Lewis noted in her order putting Hansen back on the ballot that, not "only did defendants offer no opposition to the entry of a TRO, defendants made essentially the same arguments as plaintiffs and requested the same relief at the TRO hearing."
The board voted to "table indefinitely" the agenda item regarding legal representation. Harris, Ross, Webster and Williams voted yea to table. Bryan and Moolenaar voted nay. Belardo was absent.
After the agenda was completed, Bryan informed the Source of an error in a recent article. (See: St. Croix Board of Elections Moves Forward with Ballot Edits in Related Links below.) Bryan and Webster confirmed that Senate candidate Jamila Russell was the candidate who was temporarily, inadvertently left off one draft version of the St. Croix ballot, before the glitch was caught and fixed, well before the meeting at which the ballot was approved. A correction has been made to the original article, which had incorrectly named a different candidate.