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HomeNewsLocal newsProcedural Error Kills Vote for New Elections Board Chair

Procedural Error Kills Vote for New Elections Board Chair

Members of the Board of Elections and Elections Supervisor Caroline Fawkes attend Wednesday’s meeting on St. Thomas. (Photo by Judi Shimel)

The Board of Elections met Wednesday to once again finalize its selection of leaders. A vote was taken, the session ended, and hours later the vote was tossed out.

Acting board chairman Raymond Williams said a procedural error forced that decision. Williams was the duly-elected elections board chairman in the last term that ended in 2022. Wednesday’s meeting was the second attempt to choose a new chairman, and with the vote at the end of the brief session, it appeared he would continue to lead.

But by day’s end, Williams declared the vote for him to stay on as chairman is null and void. A third attempt to assemble the board and carry out the vote will be organized soon, he said.

“This is my error, and as a result we will reconvene the meeting at the availability of the majority of the board members as soon as possible to dispose of the matter of the chairmanship,” Williams said in a statement issued late Wednesday afternoon.

Six of 14 members met in the St. Thomas Elections System conference room in Sugar Estate. Five voted for Williams, one abstained. Board member Michael Joseph cast the vote to abstain. Joseph said there were not enough members present for a quorum; later on, he added that the roll call listed in the day’s agenda was never taken.

Williams characterized the dispute differently. “Once the meeting was called to order, I stated that this was a continuation of the initial meeting of January 10th. Thereafter, member Michael Joseph called for a motion for a quorum call. That motion failed for (lack of a) second,” Williams said.

The meeting convened shortly after 10 a.m. and ended about an hour later. By midday, Williams said he consulted Roberts Rules of Order and found that he was in error to proceed without establishing the quorum.

Re-establishing a quorum for meetings that have been continued is also called for by law in the Virgin Islands Code, Title 18, Sec. 41(h).

At the first organization meeting on St. Croix, 13 of 14 members attended. They chose a vice chair and a board secretary, but split the vote for the chair.

Six members voted for Williams; six voted for longtime member Alecia Wells. One board member voted present.

Board members Williams, Shikima Jones-Sprauve, Joseph, Atanya Springette, and newly-elected members Florine Audain-Hassell, and Kareem Francis appeared at Wednesday’s meeting. Wells, Lisa Harris-Moorhead, Arturo Watlington Jr., Harriet Mercer, and Lydia Hendricks did not.

Angeli Leerdam, Epiphany Joseph, and Lilliana Bellardo de O’Neal sent written notices to the board saying they would not join Wednesday’s meeting.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story listed Frederick Espinosa and Barbara McIntosh as Elections Board members. They are no longer on the board.

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