Too Many Uncounted Ballots to Call Gubernatorial Runoff

Nearly 24 hours after polls closed Tuesday, officials had not yet determined whether there will be a runoff election between Kenneth Mapp and Donna Christensen in the gubernatorial race.

As of 5 p.m. Wednesday there were far too many outstanding, uncounted ballots to say for certain.

As of 1:52 a.m., Wednesday, Mapp/Potter were ahead of Christensen/Ottley with 49.35 percent of the vote, to Christensen/Ottley’s 35.73 percent. If neither team wins an outright majority, they will face off in a runoff election.

Independent gubernatorial candidates made up the rest of the gubernatorial count, with Soraya Diase Coffelt getting 7.73 percent and Mona Barnes 6.8 percent. Sheila Scullion had a fraction of a percent.

The Virgin Islands Code says if no gubernatorial candidate receives an outright majority of the vote, there will be a runoff election between the two candidates who received the highest totals. The runoff vote will be held 14 days after the election, which this year is Nov. 18.

Because party symbol ballots, early voting ballots, ballots with write-in votes and St. Croix ballots with stickers for Sen. Alicia "Chucky" Hansen have not yet been counted, there is an unusually high number of ballots yet to be counted. Wednesday afternoon, St. Croix Board of Elections members were still running 903 ballots through the election system’s tabulating machines that were not run last night.

Ballots from Elena Christian Junior High, Alexander Henderson Junior High, and the JFK community were not run through Tuesday night. A poll worker at Henderson who asked not to be identified said staff decided it was too late and they were too tired to continue.

Similarly on St. Thomas, ballots from Joseph Sibilly Elementary School were not counted Tuesday night because of a mechanical defect, and as of 4 p.m. the St. Thomas Board of Elections had only scanned 65 ballots, with two rejected. On St. Thomas there were 116 party-symbol ballots that are to be counted separately. St. Croix board members did not have a firm count of party-symbol and Hansen write-in ballots yet to be counted, which may be in the thousands. And there were more than 1,000 early voting ballots. Then there are mail in and overseas ballots.

The remaining ballots may be very similar to those counted already, and if the proportions of Mapp and Christensen supporters remains exactly the same or shifts towards Christensen, there will be a runoff election. But with 49.35 percent of the vote, a small shift toward Mapp will bring him over the 50 percent threshold and prevent a runoff.

Between the slow going on counting and possibility of a broken quorum Wednesday, Virgin Islanders may have to wait quite some time for answers.

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