Dec 15, 2004 – The dispute for a seat on the St. Croix Board of Elections has become even more complicated. On Wednesday, another write-in candidate filed a challenge to the challenge.
In a letter to Evelyn James, board chairperson, dated Dec. 14, write-in candidate Mary Moorhead challenged the decision of the board to certify Hope Gibson as the winner of the Board of Elections seat. Moorhead is also requesting a recount of the November election write-in votes.
The board seat has been under a swarm of controversy for several weeks. Disagreement centered around two write-in candidates, Carmen Golden, who received 27 votes and Hope Gibson, who received 15 votes, in the general election. Gibson challenged Golden's right to be awarded the seat claiming Golden was a registered Democrat at the time of election and changed her party registration after the election. Only four Democrats can sit on the board at one time. Gibson also claims that Golden used her position, as a sitting member on the board, to obtain information which other candidates had no access.(See "See Board of Elections Results Challenged").
Last week the board voted to decertify the election of Golden based on an opinion from Alva Swan, acting attorney general. On Dec. 7, Swan wrote that Golden was in violation of election laws when she changed her party affiliation after the election.
Moorhead, who is a registered member of the Independent Citizen's Movement, said because she filed a Declaration of Intent to conduct an official write-in campaign for the seat she should be declared the official winner.
The Declaration of Intent provides, among other things, that voters can write in a candidates' name or any form of the candidates' name, such as first name only, middle name or last name. Misspellings of the candidate' name can also be counted, as long as the combination "can be reasonably determined by the majority," of board members to be that candidate.
Moorhead registered her name on the declaration as Mary Louise "Peggy" Moorhead Evans. Thirteen votes were cast in the general election for "Mary Moorhead,",one vote for "M. Moorhead," and one vote for "Moorhead," for a total of fifteen votes.
The board chairperson said in a telephone interview on Wednesday that Moorhead is ""within her rights to challenge"" the seat. James said, although the board met to decertify Golden, they did not discuss awarding the seat to Gibson."We did not sit on that issue," James said, adding that the board only met to decertify."That is where it stopped," James said.
James said she is aware of Moorhead's letter but she has not seen the document yet. James said the timeliness of Moorhead's challenge might be an issue. "We have to research the law," James said.
Corrine Plaskett, deputy supervisor of elections, Wednesday confirmed the board has not taken any action toward awarding Gibson the vacant seat.
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