INCUMBENT GOVERNOR KENNETH MAPP CAMPAIGNS UNSUCCESSFULLY IN ST. THOMAS ON RUNOFF ELECTION DAY.
CHRISTIANSTED — Voters from around the Virgin Islands turned out in record numbers to “change course now” from current Governor Kenneth Mapp to new Governor-Elect Albert Bryan, Jr.
As of 9:07 p.m. in territorial polling, the Democratic team of Bryan-Tregenza Roach earned 11,796 votes (54 percent) and soundly defeated the independent team of Mapp-Osbert Potter with 9,766 of the votes (45 percent).
Incumbent Mapp won about 64 percent of the vote in St. Croix, but the challenger Bryan garnered about 80 percent of the vote in St. Thomas-St. John — and it proved to be the difference in the election.
Some 33.2 percent of the voting public turned out to vote early, with 16,975 of the 51,092 voters in the territory casting a ballot before today, according to the Election System website.
As of 3 p.m. today, Supervisor of Elections Carolyn Fawkes said that 5,160 people had voted on St. Croix and 4,448 people had cast ballots in St. Thomas-St. John.
Bryan is the former Commissioner of Labor under former Governor John P. de Jongh, Jr (2007-2015). He has worked previously in the public and private sectors.
Mapp is the third Virgin Islands elected governor to not be returned to office. Governor Melvin Evans was the first in 1974. Governor Roy Schneider became the second Virgin Islands governor not to be re-elected.
Schneider (governor) and Mapp (lieutenant governor) were elected by Virgin Islanders as their team for Government House in 1994.
GOV. ROY SCHNEIDER AND GOV. KENNETH MAPP
TREGENZA ROACH (LEFT) CELEBRATES GUBERNATORIAL VICTORY WITH ALBERT BRYAN JR. (FAR RIGHT) AND VARIOUS FAMILY AT HOME ON ST. CROIX TONIGHT
EARLY VOTING IN ST. THOMAS ON SATURDAY WAS AROUND THE BLOCK NEAR LOCKHART GARDENS
United States Virgin Islands Runoff Election Poll Results Conducted: November 13 – 15, 2018 Number of Respondents: 600 MoE: ±3.99%
Q. Are you registered to vote? Yes 100% Q. There will be a runoff election in the United States Virgin Islands on November 20th. Most folks are very busy, and not always able to vote, often for very valid reasons. Thinking ahead, how likely are you to vote in the runoff election? Certain 85% Likely 10% 50/50 chance 5% Total 100%
Q. If the runoff election for Governor of the United States Virgin Islands were held today, would you support Kenneth E. Mapp or Albert Bryan? Albert Bryan 48% Kenneth E. Mapp 39%
Undecided 13% Total 100%
Q. What is your opinion of Kenneth E. Mapp? Very Favorable 25% Somewhat Favorable 21% Somewhat Unfavorable 17% Very Unfavorable 24% No Opinion 13% Total 100% Q. What is your opinion of Albert Bryan? Very Favorable 29% Somewhat Favorable 25% Somewhat Unfavorable 13% Very Unfavorable 13% No Opinion 21% Total 100%
Q. Who did you vote for in the November 6th General Election for Governor of the United States Virgin Islands?
Albert Bryan 38% Kenneth E. Mapp 34% Adlah “Foncie” Donastorg 16% Warren Mosler 5% Soraya Diase Coffelt 5% Moleto A. Smith 2% Janette Millin Young 1% Total 100%
CHARLOTTE AMALIE — Virgin Islands Attorney General Claude Walker has filed a lawsuit to block a faction of the Elections Board from registering new voters on St. Thomas and St. John prior to the Nov. 20 runoff election.
The lawsuit, filed Tuesday and assigned to Superior Court Judge Denise Francois, calls for a temporary restraining order on registration this week, arguing that Board Chairman Arturo Watlington Jr. and the Elections Board should not register any new voters until five days after the runoff election.
The attorney general claimed that unnamed members of the Board of Elections had a question on this issue, so he weighed in on it.
Walker’s complete “advisory letter” to Supervisor of Elections Carolyn Fawkes is below:
At the request of a number of Virgin Islands Board of Elections members, the Department of Justice (DOJ) was requested to issue an advisory letter on DOJ’s interpretation of the election laws in relation to the question of who can legally vote in the upcoming November 20th run-off election for the positions of Governor and Lt. Governor. This advisory letter supersedes all previous opinions or advisories that may have been issued by the Office of the Attorney General on this matter.
On November 6, 2018, citizens of the Virgin Islands participated in a general election which, among other offices, was to decide which candidates would serve as the next Governor and Lt. Governor of the territory. The results of that race did not produce enough votes for any one particular Governor/Lt. Governor team, as is required under the Revised Organic Act of 1954, as amended, and as a result, a run-off election between the top two (2) contenders is scheduled for November 20, 2018.
Then, on Friday, November 9, 2018, the Board of Elections (“Board”) held a meeting in order to discuss details pertaining to the run-off election, and among the issues raised at the meeting was whether the Board would allow the registration of new voters between now and the run-off, and whether any newly-registered voters could legally vote in the upcoming run-off. That meeting, however, was cut short with no resolution. Because of the uncertainty of these issues, numerous members ofthe Board have contacted DOJ for formal guidance on the matter.
Whether potential voters—who were not qualified electors prior to the November 6, 2018 election—can be registered and legally vote in the run-off election given the language in 18 V.I.C. § 94(c).
No. A run-off election is a continuation of a general election and only those individuals who were registered and qualified to vote in the November 6th election are qualified to vote in the run-off.
In the instant matter, 18 V.I.C. § 1 provides two useful definitions to be used in construing the local election statutes. First, “election’ means any general or primary election, unless otherwise specified or indicated as in the term ‘primaries and elections’ where the intention is to refer to primary elections and general elections.”
Second, “run-off election’ means an election that allows for the selection between the choices receiving the first and second largest number of votes cast in the general election.” Id. (emphasis added).
Based upon the plain language of the two definitions, it is apparent that the term “run-off election” is included in the definition of general “election.” Because a “run-off election” is an election, and it only applies in situations involving a general election, it must follow that a “run off election” is intended to be a continuation ofthe general election. Based upon this interpretation, only those eligible voters who were qualified to vote in the November 6, 2018, general election shall be qualified to vote in the upcoming run-off election.
This interpretation is supported by virtually every other U.S. jurisdiction. For example, in Georgia, O.C.G.A. § 21-2-501, provides, “Only the electors entitled to vote in the first primary or election shall be entitled to vote in any run-off primary or election resulting therefrom; provided,• .. .The run-off primary or election shall be a continuation of the first primary or election, and only those votes cast for the candidates receiving the two highest numbers of votes in the first primary or election shall be counted.” (emphasis added).
In Guam, 3 GCA § 13108, provides that “Persons eligible to vote in a run-off election shall be the same voters who were eligible to vote at the election that precipitated the need for the run-off. When a run-off election is required, the Commission shall not purge the names of any voters for non-participation after a general election until after the run-off election has been held and its results certified.” (emphasis added).
In addition, in Alabama, Code of Ala. § 17-13-7.1, states that “If an elector votes in a primary election, he or she may vote in a subsequent primary run-off election only if he or she voted in the primary election of the same political party for which the run-off election is being held.”
This line of reasoning follows in the Virgin Islands under 18 V.I.C. § 94(c), which states that:
The Board of Elections. . . shall sit for the purpose of examining and registering qualified electors on such days and at such times and places in addition to those provided in subsection (a) ofthis section as it may deem necessary or advisable for the accommodation of electors, except that no electors shall be registered during the period of 30 days immediately preceding and five days immediately following each election. (emphasis added)
In other words, to comport with the strictures of Section 94, qualified electors must have been registered 30 days “immediately preceding” the November 6th general election.
Therefore, only those individuals who were qualified to vote for the November 6th election are eligible to vote in the November 20 run-off election. The Board must not register any new voters—in either district—between now and until five days after the run-off election.
The scheduled run-off election is a continuation of the general election that was held on November 6thi and, pursuant to V.I.C. § 94(c), the Board must not register new voters between today and five days after the November 20th run-off election occurs.
CHRISTIANSTED— The initiative changing the composition of the territory’s unicameral Legislature would disenfranchise voters and violate the principle of one-person, one-vote that has formed the basis of apportioning legislatures since a series of U.S. Supreme Court rulings in the early 1960s.
“I applaud citizens of all political backgrounds stepping up and getting involved in their government, but the initiative as presented is deeply flawed and for that reason I cannot support it,” said V.I. Board of Elections member Jevon O.A. Williams of St. Croix, the Republican caucus leader. “As drafted it arbitrarily allocates, or apportions, the number of senators between our island communities without any regard for the actual population of each community, as determined when the census is taken every 10 years.”
Numerous U.S. Supreme Court rulings require state and local governments to use the population, as determined by census, in creating legislative districts and apportioning seats. As a result, a federal court challenge would likely determine that allocating a seat to the island of St. John disenfranchises voters on the much larger islands of St. Croix and St. Thomas. It is also constitutionally problematic to divide both St. Croix and St. Thomas into vague “east” and “west” legislative districts without precise boundaries based on the census and amended every 10 years when new official population numbers are released.
“I support the creation of single-senator legislative districts drawn by an independent commission to avoid gerrymandering with geographic boundaries determined by what the census has found to be the actual population of each community within each island,” Williams said. “Instead, this initiative arbitrarily creates legislative districts and assigns seats to these districts without any consideration of actual population, which as we all know has declined on each island since the 2010 census was released in 2011.”
If the initiative moves forward, Williams, in his official capacity as a member of the V.I. Board of Elections, will formally request a review by the U.S. attorney and the Voting Section of the U.S. Department of Justice to protect voters in the territory. He will also work with the congressional committees that oversee the territories in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives to see if this would be better handled through an amendment to the Revised Organic Act.
Williams is also the V.I. national committeeman for the Republican Party. Republicans controls majorities in both houses of Congress.
CHRISTIANSTED — Attorney General Claude Walker says Allison DeGazon is indeed qualified to run for the Senate.
Walker wrote to Elections Supervisor Caroline Fawkes after she asked the AG on August 16 to make a ruling on DeGazon’s residency.
“Yes, … candidate DeGazon is a bona fide resident of the Virgin Islands and qualified to run in the 2018 general election,” Walker wrote.
Fawkes’s office on or about August 2 received a letter that questioned the eligibility of DeGazon to run for office in the territory, while listed as a registered agent for a business called Business Strategies VI, LLC, registered in Georgia.
Walker said DeGazon registered to vote here on Nov. 16, 2010, obtained a Virgin Islands Driver’s License on Jan. 27, 2011 and received an Master’s of Business Administration from the University of the Virgin Islands in 2014.
Additionally, from 2012 through 2017, DeGazon was employed by the Virgin Islands Department of Labor (VIDOL) and the Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency (VITEMA).
But Virgin Islands Board of Elections member Jevon O.A. Williams said residency questions about DeGazon’s candidacy for the territorial Senate remain unanswered.
Per Virgin Islands law, the supervisor of elections and members of the Board of Elections each have their own due diligence responsibilities and duties to protect the integrity of elections.
“The attorney general of the Virgin Islands has stated that the candidate in question is indeed qualified to run for public office, however, to this day members of the Board of Elections have yet to see this evidence. In good conscience, I cannot affix my signature to any document that will certify an election to which so many questions go unanswered.”
“Unfortunately, members of the Board of Elections seem content on rubber stamping the primary election in spite of the legitimate requests for proof of residency as it pertains to the candidate in question.”
“My decision was based on the need for transparency. Only through transparency can we achieve free, fair and honest elections. I commend members Adelbert M. Bryan and Glenn Webster for also exercising their own due diligence in this matter.”
SOUND ASLEEP: On the floor of the Legislature, incumbent Senator-At-Large Brian Smith.
CRUZ BAY –– The last place finisher in the Senator-At-Large race has petitioned the Board of Elections to do a “manual recount” of the votes from the Democratic Primary on Saturday.
Senator Brian A. Smith sent a letter to V.I. Elections Supervisor Caroline Fawkes on Tuesday saying: “I am respectfully requesting a manual recount of the votes for the Senator-At-Large race.”
“There appears to be a lot of irregularities, specifically, with the Senator-At-Large race, as listed below” Smith wrote. “1) The margin of victory was extremely great. 2) The winner of the race also gained more votes than the Democratic gubernatorial candidates. 3) The percentage of votes received by all candidates were almost identical territory-wide in both districts.”
Smith, the incumbent from St. John, said “it is worth noting that this situation is an irregular statistical probability, as such a thorough investigation is warranted.”
The freshman senator finished third out of three candidates behind Steven Payne Sr. and Stacie January on St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John with about 19 percent of the vote. Payne got about 50 percent of votes cast and January about 30 percent.
“We must seek for transparency and justice for the voting public,” Smith said.
The retired former U.S. Probation Officer was shown sleeping in his chair on the floor of the Legislature on June 26 and the image went viral on social media.
Senator Brian Smith held up a sign that said “Save GERS” at Sunny Isle.
SENATORIAL CANDIDATE ALLISON DEGAZON SAYS HER GEORGIA BUSINESS WAS CLOSED BECAUSE OF ACTIONS HER HUSBAND DID NOT COMPLETE FOR HER BUSINESS.
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FREDERIKSTED — Democratic senatorial candidate Allison DeGazon admitted that her mortgage business was closed down by the Georgia Secretary of State because her former husband failed to submit paperwork and a needed fee.
“I openly shared in the presence of my fellow Democrats and several media outlets that I operated a very successful mortgage business in partnership with my ex-spouse,” DeGazon said. “Unfortunately, my marriage did not last. In retaliation for seeking a divorce, my ex-spouse refused to uphold his administrative duties in the partnership. Unbeknownst to me he did not file the insurance and bonding paperwork in the amount of $627 as we did annually.
DeGazon said she was currently planning her mother’s funeral arrangements after she died unexpectedly last weekend.
“While operating under the assumption that the documents were in order, I closed three mortgages and initialed that I was licensed and bonded as customary,” she said. “Since the business was tied to me personally, my mortgage license was temporarily revoked and the business lost its privilege to operate for a period of time. That was the demise of Mortgage Solutions, USA. My attention to detail was developed out of this experience and has since catapulted my career.”
While operating the business in Georgia, DeGazon said that she used her married name Stallworth.
“Stallworth is the last name from this marriage,” DeGazon said. “After the divorce I returned to using my maiden name Allison DeGazon as a normal practice.”
Her campaign theme is: “Play time is over.” She is expected to face a residency challenge to her candidacy as there are official documents showing her business was registered in Georgia in 2017.
CHRISTIANSTED — The Rattan Polling Service, which says it is an independent polling source and has been conducting polling in the Virgin Islands since 1998, said it sampled 300 people in the territory between July 15 and August 1.
“The race for the Democratic Gubernatorial nomination appears to be a statistical dead heat among the three candidates,” the service said. “Although numerically the Dawson-James team placed number one territorially, Bryan-Roach was closely behind within one percentage point followed by the Allison Petrus team. If there is an edge, it is most likely to be the Petrus-Sanes team because of the early voting in both districts.
“According to the Board of Election, early voting on St. Thomas was 2,038 and on St. Croix 1,404 and St. John 79 for a total of 3,521 ballots cast. If that trend continues in the August 4th election, the edge could likely be the Petrus Sanes team because he placed number one in the St. Thomas District, although the other two candidates were within 2% percentage points of Petrus’ numbers.
“In the senatorial race on St. Croix, newcomers Barnes and DeGazon are most likely to win one of the 7 seats available. While positions four through ten will compete for the remaining three seats available. This is because the percentage difference between numbers five and ten is small and on election day these positions may change.”
The Rattan Polling Service said that its margin of error is three percent. The Democratic Primary is Saturday.
Here are the results:
GOVERNOR’S RACE (DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES ONLY)
ST. CROIX DISTRICT RESULTS
1. ANGEL DAWSON – MARISE JAMES
2. ALBERT BRYAN – TREGENZA ROACH
3. ALLISON PETRUS – SAMUEL SANES
ST. THOMAS DISTRICT RESULTS
1. ALLISON PETRUS-SAMUEL SANES
2. ANGEL DAWSON-MARISE JAMES
3. ALBERT BRYAN-TREGENZA ROACH
1. ANGEL DAWSON-MARISE JAMES
2. ALBERT BRYAN-TREGENZA ROACH
3. ALLISON PETRUS-SAMUEL SANES
ST. CROIX SENATORIAL CANDIDATES RESULTS:
1. ALICIA BARNES
2. KURT VIALET
3. NOVELL FRANCIS
4. TERRANCE JOSEPH
5. ALLISON DeGAZON
6. NEVILLE JAMES
7. KENETH GITTENS
8. OAKMAN BENTA
9. JAVAN JAMES
10. DOUGLAS CANTON
11. NEMMY WILLIAMS
12. KAREN CHANCELLOR
13. DEAN ANDREWS
14. JUAN FIGUEROA-SEVILLE
15. ANNETTE SCOTT
16. R.J. HAMMER
ST. THOMAS SENATORIAL CANDIDATES RESULTS:
1. DONNA FRETT GREGORY
2. STEDMAN HODGE
3. ATHNEIL “BOBBY” THOMAS
4. JOHNATHAN TUCKER, JR.
5. MYRON JACKSON
6. MARVIN BLYDEN
7. CARLA JOSEPH
8. KENT BERNIER
9. RANDOLPH BENNETT
10. RANDOLPH THOMAS
11. SEAN SKOOLY GEORGES
12. ALBERT RICHARDSON
13. JEAN FORDE
14. BEATRICE GUMBS
1. STEVEN PAYNE
2. STACIE JANUARY
3. BRIAN SMITH
THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS WERE ASKED IN THE ELECTION POLL SURVEY:
1. SHOULD MEDICINAL MARIJUANA BE LEGALIZED IN THE VIRGIN ISLANDS: RESULTS:
60 PERCENT YES
38 PERCENT NO
TWO (2%) PERCENT UNDECIDED
2. SHOULD RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA BE LEGALIZED IN THE VIRGIN ISLANDS:
By HARRIET MERCER/ SPECIAL TO THE VIRGIN ISLANDS FREE PRESS
Good day, Senator Nelson. This communication is in reference to your July 23, 2018 hearing re: the reinstatement of your candidacy for Governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Because Chairman (Arturo) Watlington (Jr.) mistakenly prevented my second round of discussion (after the round succeeding the conference call with your chosen running mate), I choose to make the record clear by registering my concerns by this mean.
When I first came in contact with your case on June 12, 2018 it was the day we three new Board members were to be deemed Board members. That day would have been our very first meeting, and your case was first scheduled to be heard. As you were at that meeting, you know strangely there was no quorum and we three were summarily dismissed as “non-members till a later time.” On that day and at that time, my limited understanding of your case was that your chosen running mate, Mr. Gary Udhwani, had filed all signatures and later registered to vote.
Then I was made to understand and upon review of certain nomination papers I did see he had limited time to collect a few signatures even after registering to vote around 5 p.m. on May 8, 2018. Before the July 23, 2018 public hearing, I had a yea vote in mind. A stickler for allowing due process, I am pleased my fellow Board members saw it fit to afford your team every opportunity to be heard; notwithstanding all present would have been best. However, upon allowed public dialogue with Mr. Udhwani during said hearing, by his own admission he made it clear that after registering to vote, he did nothing else. Thus, at the end of it all, mostly based on the responses of your chosen running mate, when the time came to make my decision, the nay vote was the only choice I had.
I had no choice but to side with the majority to deny your reinstatement as a candidate. I know now that the Board and System failed you too in that some of our procedures fell short. Our nomination papers certainly can use an upgrade to make it clear that petitioners must be registered to vote before collecting even so much as one signature. Local laws are weak too in that while suggestive, they do not mandate joint candidates file jointly PRIOR to circulating papers. I find it extremely deceptive to the registered voters to purchase “one-legged tables.”
However, because I am not a person to beat a man when he is down, so should you wish to appeal our final decision, I only hope you acquire the legal understanding via your August 3rd hearing in the Superior Court on St. Croix. It is very concerning to me that every election cycle we go through one vetting issue after another. I also hope your elected running mate will be available by then to show and to prove his 1995 voter registration. I hope he will not again be “in the Home Depot cashier line,” and he won’t tell Judge Willocks he “would answer questions only if paid.” This is a serious matter and I for one did not appreciate his “jokes” one bit.
In retrospect, over the years we have seen far too much of our share of despair, disillusionment, and disappointment when it comes to vetting issues. Going forward, therefore, it is my personal hope that, pursuant to the Revised Organic Act §11; applicable portions of the HAVA (Help America Vote Act of 2002); local laws 18 V.I.C. §7 and §263 (a) – (c); as well as the aforementioned need for upgrades to our nomination packages, all aspirants (particularly those for our JOINT office of governor/lieutenant governor) would forevermore use your case [and others] as the proverbial yardstick by which they form teams for the currently highest office to represent the people of this territory. I thank you sir, for out of this came that observation. Immediately after your hearing, I spoke with Supervisor Fawkes about me producing drafts for that and she agreed. I believe that prior to advancing to candidate,
every aspirant is tasked with the duty of checking and balancing each other; especially those aspirants who choose to be running mates for each joint and/or territorial offices; but should they fail, we must have the fail-safe mechanisms and identifiers in place. Proper vetting, defects, and disqualification issues need not be so time consuming nor difficult to rectify.
Lastly, contrary to Chairman Watlinglton’s comment at your July 23rd hearing that ‘we have not received the hearing-related court order,’ as it turns out I just re-checked my emails and found that we all were sent a copy of same on Thursday, July 19, 2018 at 3:29 p.m. via an email from Shana Alexander, a Court Clerk II of the Civil/Small Claims Court in the Division of STX. When that Marshal of the Court entered said hearing, I was under the false impression that it was some new document, predicated on an anticipated move of The Board, as this is a very urgent
Thanks for affording this Board the opportunity to possibly perfect The System. Hopefully we have each learned valuable things from now engaging in the process.
Warmest regards & best wishes as you proceed,
–Harriet A, Mercer, Ipso Facto Member Territorial Board of Elections, Election System of the U.S. Virgin Islands
EDITOR’S NOTE: The full Board of Elections voted to deny the Positive T.A. Nelson-Gary Udhwani gubernatorial ticket on Monday.