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Former Senator's Quest for Paper Ballots Frustrated Yet Again

An order effectively quashing former Sen. Adelbert Bryan’s latest attempt to stall the Nov. 2 General Election has put yet another hole in his quest for paper ballots at the polls.
Bryan’s campaign started in August with suits filed in both local and federal courts asking that the Board of Elections be restrained from having voters opposed to using the electronic voting machines cast provisional instead of regular paper ballots during the September primary and upcoming General Election. Bryan lost on both fronts — though the judges did require the Board of Elections to fully comply with existing laws laying out exactly how and when provisional ballots were to be used.
A third suit came before V.I. Superior Court Judge Julio Brady in a hearing held early last month, with Bryan once again claiming that his right to use a paper ballot was being violated.
Brady handed Bryan his third strike on Oct. 14, with an order saying Bryan didn’t support any of his arguments with concrete evidence and therefore didn’t show that he would be "irrevocably harmed" if the Nov. 2 General Election went ahead as scheduled.
"In point of fact, Plaintiff demonstrated no legal harm whatsoever," Brady wrote, denying Bryan’s motion for a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order of the General Election. Brady also dismissed Bryan’s official complaint against the board with prejudice.
"Additionally, an injunction to cancel the Nov. 2, 2010 General Election would not only be a disservice to the candidates who are contesting all the elected offices on the ballot, but also detrimental to voters who — this court verily believes — are anxiously awaiting the opportunity to exercise their fundamental right to choose the leaders of our government," the judge said in his order.
Brady’s main argument was that Bryan’s claims to sections of the V.I. Code that still allowed for "paper ballots" and "ballot boxes" were rendered null and void by the Legislature’s decision in 1984 to amend the local election laws and allow for electronic voting.
"In creating a new voting system, the Legislature was very explicit in prescribing specific standards and procedures including checks, re-checks and balances for implementing the use of electronic voting machines for all elections in the territory," Brady wrote, citing several pages worth of quotations from the code, including sections that provide for the purchase of the new voting machines, ballot design and testing.
In rendering his decision, Brady specifically points to a section that describes how voters should use the machines.
"A review of the legislative intent regarding Title 18 V.I.C 584, which refers to the former paper ballot system, reveals the Legislature’s intention to replace the previous paper system with voting machines…" according to the ruling.
Brady also briefly touched on Bryan’s claims that Elections officials would be prohibited by the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) from deciding how and when provisional ballots would be used. Though the judge said this argument is basically mixing apples and oranges, he explained the law’s main purpose was to provide federal funding to upgrade voting systems within the U.S. jurisdictions, not to lay down any criteria for voting.
"So, aside from his failure to cite any specific section of the federal law, Plaintiff’s reliance on HAVA is unpersuasive," the judge wrote, adding later that Bryan has no standing under HAVA to sue the board and Elections’ officials.
Brady also ordered that the government’s motion to dismiss the suit be granted.

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An order effectively quashing former Sen. Adelbert Bryan's latest attempt to stall the Nov. 2 General Election has put yet another hole in his quest for paper ballots at the polls.
Bryan's campaign started in August with suits filed in both local and federal courts asking that the Board of Elections be restrained from having voters opposed to using the electronic voting machines cast provisional instead of regular paper ballots during the September primary and upcoming General Election. Bryan lost on both fronts -- though the judges did require the Board of Elections to fully comply with existing laws laying out exactly how and when provisional ballots were to be used.
A third suit came before V.I. Superior Court Judge Julio Brady in a hearing held early last month, with Bryan once again claiming that his right to use a paper ballot was being violated.
Brady handed Bryan his third strike on Oct. 14, with an order saying Bryan didn't support any of his arguments with concrete evidence and therefore didn't show that he would be "irrevocably harmed" if the Nov. 2 General Election went ahead as scheduled.
"In point of fact, Plaintiff demonstrated no legal harm whatsoever," Brady wrote, denying Bryan's motion for a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order of the General Election. Brady also dismissed Bryan's official complaint against the board with prejudice.
"Additionally, an injunction to cancel the Nov. 2, 2010 General Election would not only be a disservice to the candidates who are contesting all the elected offices on the ballot, but also detrimental to voters who -- this court verily believes -- are anxiously awaiting the opportunity to exercise their fundamental right to choose the leaders of our government," the judge said in his order.
Brady's main argument was that Bryan's claims to sections of the V.I. Code that still allowed for "paper ballots" and "ballot boxes" were rendered null and void by the Legislature's decision in 1984 to amend the local election laws and allow for electronic voting.
"In creating a new voting system, the Legislature was very explicit in prescribing specific standards and procedures including checks, re-checks and balances for implementing the use of electronic voting machines for all elections in the territory," Brady wrote, citing several pages worth of quotations from the code, including sections that provide for the purchase of the new voting machines, ballot design and testing.
In rendering his decision, Brady specifically points to a section that describes how voters should use the machines.
"A review of the legislative intent regarding Title 18 V.I.C 584, which refers to the former paper ballot system, reveals the Legislature's intention to replace the previous paper system with voting machines…" according to the ruling.
Brady also briefly touched on Bryan's claims that Elections officials would be prohibited by the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) from deciding how and when provisional ballots would be used. Though the judge said this argument is basically mixing apples and oranges, he explained the law's main purpose was to provide federal funding to upgrade voting systems within the U.S. jurisdictions, not to lay down any criteria for voting.
"So, aside from his failure to cite any specific section of the federal law, Plaintiff's reliance on HAVA is unpersuasive," the judge wrote, adding later that Bryan has no standing under HAVA to sue the board and Elections' officials.
Brady also ordered that the government's motion to dismiss the suit be granted.