LWV Participates in National Registration Day

On Tuesday, September 27, the League of Women Voters of the Virgin Islands participated in National Registration Day by holding a Voter Registration drive at the University of the Virgin Islands, St. Thomas campus.  Several League members were on hand to assist as Board of Elections members registered over 20 people to vote.  Board of Elections members stated that it was the most successful voter registration they had had that election season thus far.

Audio of Election Reform and Government Spending Panels Hosted by LWV

During the LWV-VI Annual Meeting, we hosted two dynamic panels:

  • Government Spending and Accountability
    • Mr. Jose George, Former Director of Office of Management and Budget, Former executive director of the Housing Finance Authority
    • Mr. Nellon Bowry, Director of Office of Management and Budget
    • Ms. Peggy Smith, Comptroller of the University of the Virgin Islands
  • VI Election Reform: Why, What, and When
    • Senator Gittens
    • Mr. John Abramson, former VI Elections Supervisor of Elections

See below for link to the audio of these two wonderful panels.

Audio recording by WUVI of LWV Panels on April 9, 2016

LWV Offers Recommendations to Election Reform Bills

On March 10, President Gwen-Marie Moolenaar presented the League's recommendations on several Election Reform bills at the Legislature's Rules and Judiciary Commitee.  Below are the recommenations she read.

BILL NO 31-0278 (Required Nomination Signatures)

LWV is in support of this Bill but makes the following suggestions for revision:

Change the numerical requirement for the number of signatures required for nomination papers to a specific percentage of the registered voters as follows:

  • For Senator:  1% of the party’s registered voters
  • For Governor:  1.5% of the party’s registered voters
  • For Delegate:  1.5% of the party’s registered voters
  • Office in a single District:  0.5% of the party’s registered voters

If the number of a party’s registered voters is 1000 or fewer, the percentage of signatures required for nomination is 10%.  However, no candidate can be nominated for Senator with fewer than 50 signatures, nor for Governor and Delegate with fewer than 100 signatures.

Rationale for this recommendation is that some political parties have significantly fewer registered voters than others.  Therefore, to require a specific number ((e.g. 200 for Senator) could pose a hardship or even an impossibility for the smaller parties. A percentage requirement would therefore be more equitable.

BILL 31-0102: (Political Pairing)

While LWV understands the intent of this bill, we are of the opinion that a party affiliated candidate should be able to pair with an Independent candidate to run on a single ticket. In some mainland states the Governor and Lt Governor are elected separately and may therefore be elected from separate parties. It is noted, however, that the responsibilities of the Lt Gov in those states differ from those in the USVI.   LWV-VI nonetheless favors allowing an Independent candidate to pair with a party-affiliated candidate.

BILL 31-0264 (Election Offence)

LWV is in support of the Bill but recommends that the following be added to further strengthen the Bill:

lt should be required that all candidates for the offices of Governor, Delegate and Senator be required as part of their candidacy to sign an Affidavit of Non-Registration stating that they are not registered as a voter in jurisdictions other than the USVI.  The Superintendent of Elections should send an Inquiry of Registration (a new form) to any known areas of residence where the candidate may have resided to further confirm this.

BILL 31-0265 (Bona Fide Resident)

LWV understands and supports the intent of this Bill.  However, LWV strongly recommends that the Bill should include a definition of BONA FIDE RESIDENT as the term carries special meaning in other places of the VI Code.

BILL 31-0268

LWV supports this Bill in its entirety but only suggests a change in case of letters:  i.e.  Board of Elections

BILL 31-0270

LWV recommends the re-wording as follows:

This Bill amends Section 492 to allow for the inclusion of the political party symbol on the official ballot next to a candidate’s name solely for the purpose of showing the candidate’s party affiliation, and deletes the provision in Section 5223 that allows for voting on the electronic voting machine for multiple candidates by voting for the party symbol

Self Determination in the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa and Guam

On Tuesday, February 23, 2016, Interior Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas Esther Kia'aina hosts a panel discussion on self determination in the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa and Guam. The Assistant Secretary will be accompanied by Maria Lurie, Attorney-Advisor, Office of the Solicitor, U.S. Department of the Interior; Meredith Johnston, Attorney-Adviser, Office of the Legal Adviser for Human Rights & Refugees, U.S. Department of State; Dr. Malik Sekou, Professor of Political Science & History, University of the Virgin Islands; Dr. Dan Aga, Director of Community & Natural Resources, American Samoa Community College; Dr. Robert Underwood, President, University of Guam.

Watch the video: https://lwvvi.org/self-determination-panel

LWV Meets with DPW Regarding Raphune Hill Road Expansion

On Wednesday, September 16th, four members of the League of Women Voters met with representatives of Department of Public Works and the Federal Highway Administration regarding the possible expansion of the Raphune Hill road.

Currently, this road gets a grade of D (on a scale of A to F) in regards to its ability to serve its needed function. Projected out to 2030, this grade would most likely decline.

DPW and FHA have done research regarding options such as a new road that would go behind the hospital and meet up at the top of Raphune Hill. They have found this option not sufficient due to the steep grade of the hill in particular areas as well as the high environmental impact that comes with building a new road (cutting bare forest which causes run-off and encouraging more development along a new road).

Currently they are investigating 3-lane and 4-lane options for the existing Raphune Hill road. DPW will present their preferred option at a public hearing at the end of November. Most likely, it will be the 4-lane option as traffic data shows a need for an additional lane in both directions.

This project will be divided into 3 phases:

  • Fall 2016: Expanding the road between Kmart & traffic light by Wheatley Plaza
  • Fall 2017: Moving Rt 381 (where Villa Blanca's driveway is) to meet the main road across the street from the Al Cohen's Mall entrance
  • 2019: Expanding the Raphune Hill Road

DPW stated that their ground samples have shown that the ground along the road is solid rock and, therefore, will likely not cause run-off problems. They showed images showing the proposed road with a retaining wall (if necessary) that is stone faced as well as a sidewalk with a low wall on the outside of the sidewalk to protect walkers from the edge. They are currently looking into adding some greenery between the road and sidewalk to protect walkers from drivers.

DPW is currently meeting with all affected property owners.  Only one house will need to be demolished.  This is the orange house on the inside of the hairpin turn by the dumpster.  All other houses will be accommodated.

The League of Women Voters encouraged DPW to improve their public relations in order to better explain the project to the public. We also suggested better venues for the public hearings, as the last public hearing venue was not well suited for that purpose.

The League encouraged DPW to put Phase 3 before Phase 2, due to the fact that it benefits more people.  DPW said they prefer the current option as they would need the time during Phase 2 to complete agreements (acquiring land and easements) necessary for Phase 3 to take place.

Please email lwvusvi@gmail.com if you have any questions.

LWV St. Thomas Unit Hosting Ira Mills, Tax Assessor

IRA Mills, Tax Assessor of the Virgin Islands, will be speaking at the League of Women Voters St Thomas-St John Unit meeting on September 12th, 2015 from 11am-12pm.  Please join us to find out more about the property tax situation in the Virgin Islands. This event is open to the public. It will be held at the Caribbean Genealogy Library at Al Cohen's Mall on Raphune Hill.