Carolyn Fawkes, supervisor of the St. Croix Elections System, appeared in V.I. Superior Court on Monday to answer charges of contempt for failing to appear and testify last week.
Fawkes was subpoenaed to testify in Sen. Nereida “Nellie” Rivera-O’Reilly’s lawsuit against her, the deputy supervisor, Genevieve Whitaker and the St. Croix Board of Elections but was off-island attending an election in Florida with a St. Thomas Board member.
Judge Harold Willocks issued an arrest warrant Dec. 15 and reiterated the order on Friday when Fawkes didn’t appear. On Monday he dropped the charges because of her circumstances.
Rivera-O’Reilly’s court action charged that the board illegally agreed to recount general election ballots for Sen. Alicia “Chucky” Hansen and changed the rules of which votes would be included. The original results only included votes that were penciled in the appropriate area with a written name. During the recount, board members included names written in under “St. Croix Senator” but without marking the oval.
Last week Hansen’s attorney, Lee Rohn, and Rivera-O’Reilly’s attorney, Joel Holt, argued the definition of a candidate and recount procedures under the V.I. Code.
Hansen had been denied a spot on the ballot by the V.I. Supreme Court twice due to her conviction of purposely failing to file taxes for several years. The court ruled her crime was one of “moral turpitude,” making her ineligible to run for the V.I. Senate. The initial suits to remove Hansen were filed by Adelbert Bryan, chairman of the Elections Board.
After being removed from the ballot a week before the election, Hansen mounted a write-in campaign and provided supporters with adhesive stickers printed with her name. She collected a little more than 2,000 votes under as many as 60 spellings of her name. The seventh winning candidate was Rivera-O’Reilly with more than 4,700 votes.
Holt argued that Hansen was not a qualified candidate according to the Supreme Court and not entitled to a recount. He said that the board violated the V.I. Code and did not adhere to the required dates for a recount.
Rohn maintained Hansen was a candidate and entitled to a recount that was delayed by the chairman’s “improper motive.”
Fawkes was the only testifier Monday. Both attorneys participated in the short hearing via videoconference from off-island.
Willocks said he would rule on the legality of the recount before Christmas.
After the hearing, Elections board member Rupert Ross said he was returning to the office to resume tallying the recount.