Dec. 19, 2004 The present chaos at the St. Croix Board of Elections did not just happen. It is a continuing situation caused and provoked by certain opinions of the attorneys general.
We can begin to understand the confusion by going to the law.
Ask the question: How do political parties get representation on the Board of Elections?
The law provides that no more than four representatives of any political party may serve at one time on the Board of Elections. (Title 18 section 41 (c)).
The law further along states very clearly that the only way in which political parties may nominate candidates for the General Election is pursuant to Title 18 section 232. They must be elected by party members at political party primary elections.
The attorneys general's opinions in 1995 (95-OPP-0330) and in 2004 (4-OPP-0842) and (OPP- 05-0009) appear to instruct the Boards of Elections to ignore the law regarding election of political party representatives to the Boards and requires the Boards to identify any party member elected in a General Election as a representative of that political party on the Board of Elections.
It is obvious when this is done, as in the case of Mr. Raymond Williams, who ran in the General Elections and won a seat on the Board, The Board of Elections and the supervisor of elections , following the attorney general's opinions, found it necessary to identify him as a Democratic Party representative, reducing the number of candidates that the Democratic Party could nominate in the 2004 Party Primary Election to be placed on the General Election ballot. Remember, Mr. Raymond Williams was never nominated by the Democratic Party by primary election. He was identified on the General Election Ballot as a no party or independent candidate. ( Title 18 section 381 (a)), (Title 18 section 384 (c)) and ( Title 18 section 492 (d)). So, Democratic Party nominees were denied a place on the 2004 General Election Ballot in this way.
Now comes the question: Which political parties do individuals who are 'written in' by voters represent?
Political parties only nominate candidates for election through the primary election process. When voters "write in" candidates they are not identified by political party and must therefore be considered independent or no party when elected, just as individuals who run as independents even though they may belong to one political party or the other.
The form of the official election ballot ( Title 18 section 492) requires provisions for "write in" votes. Title 18 section 625 requires that votes for political party representatives and Independent candidates be separately stated. "Write in" votes are to be recorded.
There is no where in the election code a provision for disqualifying individuals who prevail in a General Election. The Board is simply instructed to determine and notify candidates in writing of the election results. The supervisor of elections is then required to notify those who are elected.( Title 18 section 627) It seems that the attorney general may have exceeded his authority and erroneously advised the supervisor and the Board of Elections in his Opinion SOL-05-0139.
Unless these opinions of the attorney general are corrected the Boards of Election will continue to exist in controversy, and baseless abusive comments on radio and in the newspapers will continue to malign the character and good reputation of citizens in the performance of their civic duty.
Because my wife Carmen Golden, a member of the St. Croix Board of Elections for over thirty years, has been the subject of numerous scurrilous attacks, I write this letter. I have served in positions of trust privately and in government, as senator, commissioner of Public Works, commissioner of Commerce and assistant to the governor among other positions. The insulting comments made publicly by vicious characters affect me also.
Arnold M. Golden
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