In a surprising turn of events Friday, the St. Thomas-St. John Election Board’s last meeting of the year ended after three members voted to arrest anyone on the district’s 2012 board that contributed to the alleged disappearance of 3,000 ballots from that year’s general election.
The motion from board member Ivy Moses came at the beginning of a discussion on a public records request filed by community member Roy Howard, who asked for the board to conduct an investigation and evidentiary hearing looking into the 2012 election, particularly the 113 votes cast for senatorial candidate Clifford Graham at five different polling places on St. Thomas. That figure is “statistically impossible” and board members needed to show how they came up with it, Howard said in the complaint.
A response to the request from Justice Department Deputy Solicitor General Samuel Walker, which was read into the record during Friday’s board meeting said “that errors in the certification (of the 2012 election) underscore the need for the system and boards to put in place adequate checks and balances to limit errors in the tabulation and certification of paper ballots and that the board should determine if any additional investigation is necessary and advise Howard” of its decision.
Another letter from Walker also said that Justice, along with the board, had investigated the matter in 2014 and had issued a written report that said the difference between the board’s tally sheets and the certified results would not change the 2012 election results for senatorial candidates running for office and that sufficient evidence wasn’t found to show that any discrepancies were deliberate.
Moses, however, said that an outstanding allegation from former district board member Wilma Marsh-Monsanto about the disappearance of 3,000 ballots from the 2012 general election should be examined. District Board Chair Arturo Watlington Jr. then ruled Moses’ call for the investigation and arrest of the district’s 2012 board out of order. Moses, along with member Diane Magras and Alecia Wells, challenged the ruling and ended up voting in favor of the motion, while Watlington and member Carla Joseph voted against it.
“We are consistently hearing about 3,000 votes that are out there and I think that it’s time for the 2012 Board of Election members to be held accountable,” Moses said.
When asked by Wells after the vote how the board was going to proceed, Watlington said he did not know.
“I don’t know how it’s going to be implemented,” Watlington said. “I don’t think we have that kind of power.”
During Friday’s meeting, the board also discussed budget concerns, limiting overtime costs of one of the board’s employees, and preparations for the 2016 general election.
Watlington also said that a Joint Elections Board meeting is scheduled for Dec. 11, but is still not sure yet if St. Croix District Board members, who have boycotted the last two Joint Board meetings held on St. Thomas, will attend.