Both district boards of Elections received petitions this week from unsuccessful candidates asking for a recount of the general election on Nov. 4.
The St. Thomas/St. John Board of Elections stopped an internal audit of the election Monday “at the request of candidates that have demanded a public and physical recount of the general election,” according to a news release.
The district boards conduct audits after primary and general elections by reviewing printed numbers and physical ballots and matching tabs used to secure ballot boxes from three or four precincts.
According to Supervisor of Elections Caroline Fawkes, a “petition for recount” is a form from an individual requesting certain actions – not a list of signatures. The boards will discuss and vote whether or not the petitions have merit and, if the candidates don’t accept the decision, the matter goes to court.
Fawkes referred to V.I. Code Title 18, section 629 that calls for a notarized complaint that meets certain requirements. The requirements include “that the petitioner has reason to believe and does believe that the records or copies of records made by the election officers at one or more polling places in such district are erroneous.” The petitioner also must specify where and how the errors occurred and his or her belief that a recount would alter the election results.
On St. Croix, Alicia “Chucky” Hansen sent a petition with 14 complaints from uncounted and erroneously counted ballots to St. Croix Elections Board Chairman Adelbert Bryan’s handling of ballots while in litigation. Hansen was a sitting senator who was seeking reelection despite being barred by the V.I. Supreme Court – a case initiated by Bryan. Hansen’s convictions for failing to pay taxes amounted to “moral turpitude,” according to the high court.
An emergency meeting has been called by Bryan for Wednesday morning on St. Croix to discuss the petition.
Angel Bolques, administrative assistant for the St. Thomas/St. John Elections Board, said they also will meet Wednesday to discuss petitions filed by Stephen “Smokey” Frett, Hariet Mercer, Bruce Flamon, Vince Danet, Wilma Marsh-Monsanto and Diane Magras. Marsh-Monsanto is a member of the same board she is challenging.
After the 2012 election, three losing St. Croix candidates and five from St. Thomas/St. John sought recount and/or new elections. The St. Croix board voted to reject the petitions because they failed to meet the required legal thresholds and two federal judges rejected the St. Thomas/St. John complaints.