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Joint Boards of Elections Appoints Two Deputy Supervisors of Election

The Joint Boards of Elections voted Thursday to appoint Nefrediezha Barbel to the position of deputy supervisor of elections for St. Thomas/St. John and Genevieve Whitaker for deputy supervisor for St. Croix, at the Joint Boards’ regular meeting.

The appointments will become final when the candidates formally accept the positions, said Supervisor of Elections Caroline Fawkes.

The elected St. Croix Board of Elections and St. Thomas/St. John Board of Elections are responsible for running elections in their respective districts. The Joint Boards of Elections comprises the members of both boards. It selects the supervisor and deputy supervisors of election and sets some policies to ensure some degree of uniformity in procedure between the districts.

The deputy supervisors’ appointments mark the end of many months without a full management contingent at the V.I. election system. Outgoing Supervisor of Elections John Abramson retired effective May 31 and was out on medical leave since late 2012; St. Thomas/St. John Deputy Supervisor of Elections Mabel Maduro and St. Croix Deputy Supervisor of Elections James Weber III both resigned in March of this year, creating a managerial vacuum, with all three top positions vacant. (See related links below)

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The Joint Boards voted to appoint Fawkes to the supervisor post in July. The St. Croix board voted to recommend Whitaker in September.

Joint Boards member Raymond Williams moved to approve both nominations, saying both nominees were recommended by Fawkes. Both nominees were approved unanimously. Voting yes were Williams, Claudette Georges, Wilma Marsh-Monsanto, Lydia Hendricks, Harry Daniel, Alecia Wells, Liliana Belardo de O’Neal, Roland Moolenaar, Adelbert Bryan and Rupert Ross. Members Larry Boschulte, Lisa Harris-Moorhead and Arturo Watlington were absent.

The Joint Boards voted to forbid the chair from canceling a meeting "due to a lack of a quorum" after the meeting has been announced and before the meeting is called to order. Bryan, who made the motion, said he felt it wasted the time of members who made travel plans before the meeting was canceled, and that one could not declare a lack of a quorum until the meeting was called to order and a quorum call held.

Wells defended canceling meetings if enough members have said they cannot attend that a quorum will not exist, saying she is "trying to save taxpayer money" that would be wasted if several members fly from one district to the other at government expense, get hotel rooms and then show up to the meeting just to turn around and leave due to lack of a quorum.

"Why would we spend money for travel … if we don’t know there will be a quorum?" Wells said.

O’Neal said she would support the measure, saying "because I feel if you or whoever is canceling the meeting says there is no quorum, I should not be put in the same basket.”

She continued, “The media is going to say there is no quorum, not that we have four members ready to attend from St. Croix and four from St. Thomas."

Voting for the restrictions on canceling meetings were Georges, Monsanto, Daniel, O’Neal, and Bryan. Voting no were Wells, Watlington and Ross. Moolenaar, Moorhead, Boschulte, Webster, Hendricks and Williams were absent at the time of the vote.

The Joint Boards also voted to authorize the purchase of up to eight additional DS 200 vote tabulating machines and AutoMark voting machines for the visually disabled to ensure there are enough machines for the 2014 territorial election.

At Fawkes’ recommendation, they also voted to require two signatures – that of the supervisor of elections and that of the appropriate district supervisor – in order to disburse any funds from the election system’s imprest fund. Currently it requires only a single signature – that of former Supervisor Abramson, Fawkes said. She said she needs it changed to allow her signature and wants it changed to have a second signature.

Ross tried to clarify, saying, "What we are trying to change is an imprest fund that currently has one signature on it so that a deputy supervisor must sign too."

All members present voted in favor of the measure.

The Joint Boards also voted to direct Fawkes to draft a resolution for the next meeting urging Congress to change election law so the delegate to Congress would be elected by a plurality rather than a majority vote.

While the issue has not come up in the past, if a candidate did not win a majority and a runoff election were required, it would be impossible to publish the ballots quickly enough to avoid running afoul of federal law saying ballots must be published, Ross and Watlington said.

"The Virgin Islands and Guam are the only two districts that have this problem," Ross said. He said he supported changing to plurality vote, but that it would be unlikely to affect local elections. But if the law continues to require a majority, a close three-candidate election could result in no candidate with a clear majority, which "would mean a runoff election in December or January," Ross said.

The Joint Boards also voted to request that the Division of Personnel amend Fawkes’ hiring document, or notice of personnel action to reflect the Aug. 12 date the board appointed her as her date of hire. The government’s NOPA has her hire date a week later. The change would allow Fawkes to be compensated for work and travel she did the week of Aug. 12-19, attending a voting machine convention in Savannah, Ga., with members of the Joint Boards.

In other business, the Joint Boards voted to direct the two district board chairs – Bryan on St. Croix and Watlington in St. Thomas/St. John – to select a total of 17 individuals to serve on a committee to revise the state election plan.

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The Joint Boards of Elections voted Thursday to appoint Nefrediezha Barbel to the position of deputy supervisor of elections for St. Thomas/St. John and Genevieve Whitaker for deputy supervisor for St. Croix, at the Joint Boards’ regular meeting.

The appointments will become final when the candidates formally accept the positions, said Supervisor of Elections Caroline Fawkes.

The elected St. Croix Board of Elections and St. Thomas/St. John Board of Elections are responsible for running elections in their respective districts. The Joint Boards of Elections comprises the members of both boards. It selects the supervisor and deputy supervisors of election and sets some policies to ensure some degree of uniformity in procedure between the districts.

The deputy supervisors’ appointments mark the end of many months without a full management contingent at the V.I. election system. Outgoing Supervisor of Elections John Abramson retired effective May 31 and was out on medical leave since late 2012; St. Thomas/St. John Deputy Supervisor of Elections Mabel Maduro and St. Croix Deputy Supervisor of Elections James Weber III both resigned in March of this year, creating a managerial vacuum, with all three top positions vacant. (See related links below)

The Joint Boards voted to appoint Fawkes to the supervisor post in July. The St. Croix board voted to recommend Whitaker in September.

Joint Boards member Raymond Williams moved to approve both nominations, saying both nominees were recommended by Fawkes. Both nominees were approved unanimously. Voting yes were Williams, Claudette Georges, Wilma Marsh-Monsanto, Lydia Hendricks, Harry Daniel, Alecia Wells, Liliana Belardo de O'Neal, Roland Moolenaar, Adelbert Bryan and Rupert Ross. Members Larry Boschulte, Lisa Harris-Moorhead and Arturo Watlington were absent.

The Joint Boards voted to forbid the chair from canceling a meeting "due to a lack of a quorum" after the meeting has been announced and before the meeting is called to order. Bryan, who made the motion, said he felt it wasted the time of members who made travel plans before the meeting was canceled, and that one could not declare a lack of a quorum until the meeting was called to order and a quorum call held.

Wells defended canceling meetings if enough members have said they cannot attend that a quorum will not exist, saying she is "trying to save taxpayer money" that would be wasted if several members fly from one district to the other at government expense, get hotel rooms and then show up to the meeting just to turn around and leave due to lack of a quorum.

"Why would we spend money for travel ... if we don't know there will be a quorum?" Wells said.

O'Neal said she would support the measure, saying "because I feel if you or whoever is canceling the meeting says there is no quorum, I should not be put in the same basket.”

She continued, “The media is going to say there is no quorum, not that we have four members ready to attend from St. Croix and four from St. Thomas."

Voting for the restrictions on canceling meetings were Georges, Monsanto, Daniel, O'Neal, and Bryan. Voting no were Wells, Watlington and Ross. Moolenaar, Moorhead, Boschulte, Webster, Hendricks and Williams were absent at the time of the vote.

The Joint Boards also voted to authorize the purchase of up to eight additional DS 200 vote tabulating machines and AutoMark voting machines for the visually disabled to ensure there are enough machines for the 2014 territorial election.

At Fawkes' recommendation, they also voted to require two signatures – that of the supervisor of elections and that of the appropriate district supervisor – in order to disburse any funds from the election system's imprest fund. Currently it requires only a single signature – that of former Supervisor Abramson, Fawkes said. She said she needs it changed to allow her signature and wants it changed to have a second signature.

Ross tried to clarify, saying, "What we are trying to change is an imprest fund that currently has one signature on it so that a deputy supervisor must sign too."

All members present voted in favor of the measure.

The Joint Boards also voted to direct Fawkes to draft a resolution for the next meeting urging Congress to change election law so the delegate to Congress would be elected by a plurality rather than a majority vote.

While the issue has not come up in the past, if a candidate did not win a majority and a runoff election were required, it would be impossible to publish the ballots quickly enough to avoid running afoul of federal law saying ballots must be published, Ross and Watlington said.

"The Virgin Islands and Guam are the only two districts that have this problem," Ross said. He said he supported changing to plurality vote, but that it would be unlikely to affect local elections. But if the law continues to require a majority, a close three-candidate election could result in no candidate with a clear majority, which "would mean a runoff election in December or January," Ross said.

The Joint Boards also voted to request that the Division of Personnel amend Fawkes' hiring document, or notice of personnel action to reflect the Aug. 12 date the board appointed her as her date of hire. The government's NOPA has her hire date a week later. The change would allow Fawkes to be compensated for work and travel she did the week of Aug. 12-19, attending a voting machine convention in Savannah, Ga., with members of the Joint Boards.

In other business, the Joint Boards voted to direct the two district board chairs – Bryan on St. Croix and Watlington in St. Thomas/St. John – to select a total of 17 individuals to serve on a committee to revise the state election plan.