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Saturday, July 13, 2024
HomeNewsLocal newsElections Board Meets to Address a Pending Lawsuit

Elections Board Meets to Address a Pending Lawsuit

Elections Board Chair Alecia Wells convened a special meeting Wednesday to address the board’s participation in a federal lawsuit. (Source file photo)

The Board of Elections has until Friday to answer questions posed by lawyers in a federal court case that names the board as defendants. A special meeting of the board was held Tuesday to comply with that court order.

But some board members did not attend. According to a former elections board chairman, among the missing were members of the Virgin Islands Republican Party. Along with the Republican National Committee, the VIGOP represents the plaintiffs currently suing the elections board and Elections Supervisor Caroline Fawkes.

Court documents filed in the case say that by enforcing provisions listed in the Virgin Islands Code, the named defendants are violating the constitutional rights of free association among Republicans, nationally and locally.

A civil trial is scheduled to begin Nov. 20. Questionnaires called interrogatories from both the plaintiffs and defendants are supposed to be submitted by May 5. Elections Board Chair Alecia Wells convened Tuesday’s hybrid virtual meeting; a closed-door executive session quickly followed.

The public portion of the meeting reconvened about an hour later, lasting less than 10 minutes. When it was done, Wells said a committee formed by the board to work on the questionnaires would meet on deadline day.

Wells also declined, when asked, to name the elections board members who did not attend on Wednesday. Former board chairman Arturo Watlington Jr. was present at the Elections Systems conference room on St. Thomas and joined the meeting by way of live stream technology.

Watlington said local Republicans who were elected to serve on the board are part of the group now suing the elections board and Supervisor Fawkes. He also suggested that those elected officers still have an obligation to public service.

Wells declined to comment on the situation brought about by the lawsuit.

“ … [A]ll members who were present at roll call attended the entire meeting. A committee was named by me to review the interrogatories. Those persons and I met (Wednesday) afternoon.  The interrogatories were discussed and answered.  A meeting scheduled for 10 a.m. (Friday) will vote to accept answers, and they will then be sent to Attorney (Christopher) Timmons,” the chairwoman said.

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