Candidate, GOP File Lawsuit Over Disenfranchisement

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Republican nominee for Congress Gordon Ackley and the Republican Party of the United States Virgin Islands filed a federal lawsuit Friday against the Democrat-controlled Joint Board of Elections after Ackley and thousands of registered Republican voters across the Virgin Islands were disenfranchised by its refusal to conduct a Republican primary election.

“The actions of the defendants not only have the effect of violating the rights of Mr. Ackley and the Republican Party but also cast serious doubts on the ability of defendants to hold a fair and meaningful election in the U.S. Virgin Islands,” the complaint, filed in District Court, alleged. “The conduct on the part of the defendants has and continues to have the effect of violating the First Amendment and voting rights of citizens of the U.S. Virgin Islands.”

Ackley won the Republican congressional nomination during the Republican Territorial Convention on June 11.

The Republican Territorial Convention was convened on May 6 after the Democrat-controlled Joint Board of Elections decided on May 5 not to conduct a full primary election.

The deadline for candidates seeking a party’s nomination in the primary election to file with the Democrat-controlled Joint Board of Elections in the primary was May 17. The Democrat-controlled Joint Board of Elections waited until June 1 to notify the Republican Party that it would not certify the party’s nominees, which under Virgin Islands elections law are afforded automatic ballot status.

Ackley then complied with well-established provisions of Virgin Islands election law and filed July 14 as a write-in candidate for the Republican nomination in the primary election.

With no notice to the Republican Party, its candidates, or registered Republican voters, the Democrat-controlled Joint Board of Elections defied an order of the Superior Court of the Virgin Islands to conduct a full primary election for both the Democratic and Republican parties.

Ackley and the Republican Party request the court to either issue an order directing defendants to hold a Republican primary election or an order placing Ackley on the general election ballot.

Supervisor of Elections Caroline Fawkes is also named as a defendant.

Other Republican candidates nominated at the Republican Territorial Convention were Tim Daly, Vince Danet and Eloi George for the Legislature from the St. Thomas-St. John District, Robert Moorhead for the Legislature from the St. Croix District, Lilliana Belardo de O’Neal and Jevon Williams for the St. Croix Board of Elections, Lawrence Boschulte and Robert Max Schanfarber for the St. Thomas Board of Elections, and Marion Baptiste for the St. Croix Board of Elections.

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