The territory is caught between the proverbial “rock and a hard place” when it comes to complying with federal law in conducting elections, and the St. Croix Board of Elections said Wednesday that it is up to the Senate to solve the problem.
In this case, “the rock” is a 2009 federal law called the Military and Overseas Voter Empower Act, or MOVE Act, which requires states to provide military and other overseas voters with ballots at least 45 days prior to an election in which there is a federal office on the ballot.
The “hard place” is that, under V.I. law, the primary is held too close to the general election to fit that time frame. It’s not possible to get overseas voters a general election ballot in time if the primary election is less than 45 days before the general election.
At their meeting Wednesday morning at the Sunny Isles elections office, members of the St. Croix district board acknowledged that something has to be done or the territory will be in violation of federal law.
But it’s the V.I. Senate, not the Board of Elections, that will have to do it, said board chairman Rupert Ross after the meeting.
Board member Adelbert M. "Bert" Bryan, a former senator, said he has seen transcripts of 2009 communications between Elections and the federal Department of Justice in which the situation was outlined and model language was suggested that would have resolved the issue. But the Senate failed to act on it before the 2010 election.