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Charlotte Amalie
Friday, May 17, 2024


Although a recount of absentee ballots on Monday resulted in Raymond "Usie" Richards picking up 10 votes in his quest for St. Croix’s seventh Senate seat, Sen. Vargrave Richards continued to hold a slim 15-vote lead.
But an outright victory for Sen. Richards will remain unclear until the V.I. attorney general renders a decision on 56 ballots that Usie Richards challenged. Out of those 56, at least 18 could go to Usie Richards.
St. Croix had a total of 451 absentee ballots. The challenge is based on "spoiled" ballots where the voter marked the political party symbol on the ballot card but then chose names of candidates not in that party. Usie Richards, who also sits on the St. Croix District Board of Elections, said federal and state rulings have determined that elections officials must recognize a voter’s intent in choosing the candidates and count the votes cast.
Considering that there is no legal guideline on the books in the territory, Usie Richards requested that the St. Croix Board of Elections seek a legal opinion from the V.I. attorney general on what constitutes a spoiled ballot.
Usie Richards said he was pleased with the board’s decision. He added that by pressing for a written opinion on the issue of voter intent, a legal benchmark will be set in the territory.
"I appreciate the board’s efforts," Usie Richards said. "This will set some precedent in the absence of some specific law."
In the Nov. 7 general election, Usie Richards tied with his cousin, Sen. Richards, with 3,936 votes apiece for the seventh St. Croix Senate seat. After the board counted absentee ballots on Nov. 18, Sen. Richards came away with a 25-vote victory.
In Monday’s recount, Sen. Richards got 137 votes; Usie Richards received 122.
On Tuesday the St. Croix board will take up Usie Richards’ request that it re-tabulate all the votes cast at polling places during the general election. He called for the re-tabulation of electronic cartridges used in voting machines to determine a reason for the difference between the order of the candidates on the night of the general election and the poll-by-poll printouts.
At least two of the electronic voting machine cartridges couldn’t be read by the accompanying computer software so a printout was made of the results. Those were then entered by hand into a computer.
Usie Richards requested, and was granted, a re-tabulation because of the possibility that errors were introduced during the manual entering of the information.

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