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Charlotte Amalie
Friday, May 17, 2024


The retabulation Tuesday of voting machine results from the Nov. 7 general election on St. Croix confirmed the incredible: Cousins Sen. Vargrave Richards and Senate candidate Raymond "Usie" Richards each garnered exactly 3,936 votes.
But even though Vargrave Richards has unofficially slipped past Usie Richards for St. Croix’s last Senate seat by 15 absentee ballots, the outcome is still far from complete. Although Usie Richards accepted the retabulation results Tuesday, he has challenged some 56 absentee ballots from a recount on Monday.
At issue is the intent of the voter. The challenge is based on so-called "spoiled" ballots, where the voter marked the political party symbol on the ballot card but then chose names of candidates not in that party. Since there is nothing in the V.I. Code addressing voter intent, the St. Croix Board of Elections drafted a letter Tuesday to V.I. Attorney General Iver Stridiron asking him for an opinion on the issue.
Until then, the board is in limbo and unable to certify the election, said its chairman, Dodson James.
"We’ll wait until we get an opinion from the attorney general," James said. "Then we will act on his guidance."
James said the letter was to be sent out Tuesday afternoon and that Stridiron had indicated he would reply by Wednesday.
Usie Richards called for the recount of the absentee ballots because of irregularities during the calling and tallying of votes on Nov. 18. As for the retabulation of the electronic voting machine cartridges, at least two couldn’t be read by the computer on election night, so a printout was made of the results. Those were then entered by hand into a computer.
Usie Richards requested a retabulation because of the possibility that errors were introduced when results were manually entered into a computer. He emphasized Tuesday that he didn’t believe that there was any fraud or mismanagement relating to the electronic cartridges.
His biggest concern, he said, was the voter intent issue. He implied he might take the issue to court for a decision if Stridiron’s opinion goes against hm.
Out of the 56 challenged ballots, at least 18 could go to Usie Richards.
"If the guidance isn’t satisfactory . . . somewhere we have to find some findings on the issue of voter intent," he said.
In Monday’s recount, Sen. Richards landed 137 votes; Usie Richards received 122.

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