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Wednesday, February 21, 2024
HomeNewsLocal newsDistrict Board Certifies Sarauw as Winner of Special Election

District Board Certifies Sarauw as Winner of Special Election

District Board of Elections members gather Monday to certify the April 8 special election results
District Board of Elections members gather Monday to certify the April 8 special election results

Three months after the votes were counted and in response to a judge’s order, St. Thomas-St. John District Board of Elections members gathered Monday to certify the April 8 special election results, paving the way for Janelle Sarauw to take her seat as the district’s seventh senator.

The vote to certify was tight, with two out of five members – Lydia Hendricks and Alecia Wells – voting to do so. Board chair Arturo Watlington, Jr. and member Carla Joseph abstained, while member Ivy Moses voted against certifying the results. Members Diane Magras and Maurice Donovan were absent.

With 1,292 votes, Sarauw was the highest vote getter in the special election, which was called by Gov. Kenneth Mapp in response to the V.I. District Court dismissal of lawsuits filed by Sarauw and former senator-elect Kevin Rodriquez. After the general election last November, Sarauw challenged Rodriquez’s eligibility, and the electoral and legal battle came to an end June 28 when the Legislature voted 8-6 not to admit Rodriquez.

The district Elections Board, after the special election, voted not to certify the results after being advised by their attorney that Sarauw could only take the Senate seat after Rodriquez was de-certified. A Third Circuit Court opinion compelled the Legislature to act, and after their vote in a June 28 session, Senate President Myron Jackson sent a letter to the Elections board informing its members that there was “no longer any impediment” to certification.

In a separate lawsuit and in an effort to speed up the process, Sarauw has sought relief from the V.I. Superior Court, which last week granted her request for mandamus relief and ordered the district Elections board to certify the special election results.

Before Monday’s vote, Joseph was vocal about her concerns over the process and said that she has continued to be approached by community members who voted for Rodriquez during the general election.

“I have great, great, great hard feelings regarding this election,” Joseph said. “I am concerned that we have disenfranchised voters in a primary election that voted, and voters in a primary election that were disenfranchised. They are saying that their vote didn’t count and how am I to answer that? It is very disheartening.”

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  1. Better than going to jail for contempt of court Ms Moses. Besides, many more voters could have approached you for voting to certify a bona fide Tennessee resident in the senate. I don’t know if you misspoke. But the person who came 8th in the democratic primary was robbed by Rodriguez. What about that person? And if people so wanted their vote for Kevin to count, they would have written his name in on the special election ballot. Ask them if they write his name in and if they say no, then tell them to get out of your face. We elected you to have correctly determine eligibility. The audacity of you to not have any humility about the original mess up.

  2. Ms Joseph, when people approach you about being disenfranchised, please consider the following response: “Mr./Ms. Voter, it was partially the fault of the Mr. Rodriguez for providing false information about his residency for the three years preceding the election. I understand why you would be angry at him. It was also the fault of the Election System of the Virgin Islands for knowingly allowing a bona fide resident of Tennessee to be on the ballot. Had Mrs. Adams Fawkes done her job correctly, you would not have been denied the opportunity to vote for seven qualified candidates. As a board member, I am going to insist that we reconsider her continued employment. By the way, did you vote in the special election? You see, voting in the special election was how you were given the opportunity to have your one spoiled vote counted, in other words, a second chance if you had voted for Rodriguez the first time. All you had to do was to write in his name or if not, then to select a qualified candidate. So no one in our district can say that they did not have the opportunity to cast seven valid votes.