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Charlotte Amalie
Sunday, June 26, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesVOTE MANDATES SENATE TO TRIM MEMBERS TO 9

VOTE MANDATES SENATE TO TRIM MEMBERS TO 9

Despite their personal feelings, senators are mandated by Virgin Islands voters to reduce the size of the Legislature. That is the opinion of two key players in the growing controversy over last week's referendum, Chief Legislative Counsel Constance Krigger and John Abramson, supervisor of elections.
Unofficial vote tallies indicate that 17,069 residents went to the polls and voted on the referendum and that 14,949 of them, or roughly 87 percent, voted to reduce the size of the Legislature.
The referendum is binding if at least 50 percent plus one of the electorate vote for it. The issue now turns on the definition of "electorate."
Critics of the measure, including some senators, argue that the electorate means all registered voters. But Krigger said Monday that interpretation doesn't take into account the language of the bill that the Legislature passed, requiring the referendum.
"It's 50 percent plus one of the persons casting a ballot on the issue," Krigger said. She added that staff members within the legislative counsel's office are unanimous in that interpretation.
Abramson agreed. "We follow the law as it's written," he said. "It says it's binding-on someone-and my assessment is the Legislature."
The referendum first required the Legislature to petition Congress for the right to alter the size of the Legislature from its present 15 members. Congress already granted that authorization and the president signed it into law Oct. 27, according to staff in the office of V.I. Delegate to Congress Donna Christian Christensen.
Krigger did not take a position on the advisability of the change. But given the federal authorization, she said she believes that "the Legislature will be bound to pass a law reducing (its size.)"
Of the 14,949 votes to reduce the Senate's size, 12,589 opted for nine senators rather than the current 15. The other 2,826 voters cast ballots for an 11-member Legislature. With a total of 1,157 absentee ballots still to be counted, the numbers and the percentages are not expected to change significantly.
Noting "there seems to be a difference of opinion" about whether the referendum is binding, Krigger said "it might wind up taking a court to decide the issue."

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Despite their personal feelings, senators are mandated by Virgin Islands voters to reduce the size of the Legislature. That is the opinion of two key players in the growing controversy over last week's referendum, Chief Legislative Counsel Constance Krigger and John Abramson, supervisor of elections.
Unofficial vote tallies indicate that 17,069 residents went to the polls and voted on the referendum and that 14,949 of them, or roughly 87 percent, voted to reduce the size of the Legislature.
The referendum is binding if at least 50 percent plus one of the electorate vote for it. The issue now turns on the definition of "electorate."
Critics of the measure, including some senators, argue that the electorate means all registered voters. But Krigger said Monday that interpretation doesn't take into account the language of the bill that the Legislature passed, requiring the referendum.
"It's 50 percent plus one of the persons casting a ballot on the issue," Krigger said. She added that staff members within the legislative counsel's office are unanimous in that interpretation.
Abramson agreed. "We follow the law as it's written," he said. "It says it's binding-on someone-and my assessment is the Legislature."
The referendum first required the Legislature to petition Congress for the right to alter the size of the Legislature from its present 15 members. Congress already granted that authorization and the president signed it into law Oct. 27, according to staff in the office of V.I. Delegate to Congress Donna Christian Christensen.
Krigger did not take a position on the advisability of the change. But given the federal authorization, she said she believes that "the Legislature will be bound to pass a law reducing (its size.)"
Of the 14,949 votes to reduce the Senate's size, 12,589 opted for nine senators rather than the current 15. The other 2,826 voters cast ballots for an 11-member Legislature. With a total of 1,157 absentee ballots still to be counted, the numbers and the percentages are not expected to change significantly.
Noting "there seems to be a difference of opinion" about whether the referendum is binding, Krigger said "it might wind up taking a court to decide the issue."