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Will Voters in the USVI Change the Way They Elect Senators in March?

On March 30, 2019 the voters of the United States Virgin Islands have the opportunity to vote in a special election that will determine the way that future senators are elected. Currently, the way senators are elected consist of 1 At-Large Senator from St. John, and 14 District Senators. 7 senators are chosen from both St. Croix and St. Thomas to elect a total of 15 senatorial positions.

The proposed plan includes separating the islands into distinct districts.

  • 2 Districts on St.Thomas
  • 2 Districts on St.Croix
  • 1 District on St.John

The proposed plan also changes the amount of District, and At-Large Senators each island may have.

  • 4 District Senators on St. Croix
  • 4 District Senators on St. Thomas
  • 1 District Senator on St.John
  • 3 At-Large Senators on St.Croix
  • 3 At-Large Senators on St.Thomas

Virgin Islanders have shown concern on how we elect our official for years. According to Retired Director of Special Education, and current UVI college professor Gail Harris-Perez she welcomes the change.

She states, “This will not only help with overall corruption, but also force the Senators to be held more accountable for their actions.” The Senators that voted are voted in per district will no longer have the chance to blame lack of change or decisions on other cabinet members.”

Recently, representatives from the U.S. Virgin Islands and other U.S. territories were granted voting powers in Congress. The new rule allows representatives from U.S. territories to vote on select bills that reach the House floor.

Virgin Islanders and American citizens in four other U.S. territories are not allowed to vote in Presidential elections, unless they reside in one of the 50 states.

This vote will may also hold historical significance, as politician Alma Francis Heyliger points out this will be the first time we used the Revised Organic Act of 1954 to attempt to create a law on our own terms. Voting begins on March 30, 2019.

Featured image courtesy of the St. Thomas Source.