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Special Election Set For April 8; Senate Session Called To Address Election Law

News / Virgin Islands / February 14, 2017

The Elections System of the Virgin Islands announced on Monday that those who plan to participate in the upcoming St. Thomas-St. John District special election –triggered by the saga that ended with Kevin Rodriquez not being seated in the 32nd Legislature — will be able to register to participate as candidates beginning today (details here).

Meanwhile, Senate President Myron Jackson has called the Senate into special session to address what Mr. Jackson said in a press release issued Monday were loopholes in Act No. 7892, a law creating a Joint Board of Elections, in order to meet the deadline for a special election to fill the vacant 15th Senate seat.

“We’re fixing the deficiencies,” Mr. Jackson said. “Whether we repeal the legislation or make amendments, we will be addressing the special election.”

According to Rule 201 (d) of the Legislature, the president may convene regular session at the president’s discretion, but not after adjournment sine die, or not without assigning a day for a further meeting or hearing. According to the release, there are several conflicts with the current law, as outlined in an opinion from District Court Judge Curtis Gomez, issued last week.

The release added that a letter from Elections Supervisor Caroline Fawkes requested a $140,000 appropriation by March 10, as per an amendment to 18 Virgin Islands Code, Subsection 94A regarding early voting, and for legislation addressing the deficiencies cited in the District Court opinion.

“The Board of Elections needs to meet certain mandates including notification to our military,” Mr. Jackson said, referring to the requirement to send ballots to the military 45 days in advance.

Several senators have submitted requests for legislation to correct the inconsistencies, or to repeal Act. No. 7892 completely and reinstate the original law, Mr. Jackson said. The Legislature’s legal counsel is working to have the legislation ready, according to the release.

“The reforms will come later with a bill that’s developed to address all of the concerns,” Mr. Jackson concluded.

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