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CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS? Rogue St. Thomas Elections Board Members Hijacked Meeting

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CHARLOTTE AMALIE: Arturo Watlington had no authority to call or preside over today’s purported meeting of the Board of Elections.

Here are the facts:

FACT: Watlington was secretary, not chairman of the now-former Board of Elections. There is no provision of V.I. law allowing the secretary to act as chairman in the event the chair is vacancy.

FACT: Under V.I. law and the bylaws of the Board of Elections, a meeting of the Board of Elections can only be called by (1) the chairman, (2) by a demand of five members of the Board of Elections, or (3) by an affirmative vote of members of the Board of Elections at a meeting with a quorum of the members.

FACT: Only Watlington called this meeting. Watlington is one member, not five members.

FACT: There is no provision of the Board of Elections that expressly prohibits voting by telephone.

FACT: Five members of the Board of Elections, Minority Caucus Leader Jevon Williams, Member Robert Max Schanfarber, Member Harriet Mercer, Member Bert Bryan and Member Glenn Webster, called a meeting for June
20 at 4 p.m. Supervisor of Elections Caroline Fawkes refused to recognize their demand and call for meeting.

Additionally, Article VII, Section 6 of the bylaws states:

“A Member may attend such meeting for the expressed purpose of objecting to the conduct of any business because he alleges that the meeting is not lawfully called or convened and shall make his objection known on the record.”

See attached for the bylaws, which were adopted in 2015.

–By JEVON O.A. WILLIAMS

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 50 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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