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Administrative Complaint Procedure
Section 402 of HAVA requires the territory of the Virgin Islands to create territory-based administrative complaint procedures to assure state compliance with Title III of HAVA. The Virgin Islands plans to manage complaints informally, formally and through mediation. When this informal process does not satisfy the voter, a formal administrative complaint procedure will be available as well as mediation. The procedures must meet the following requirements:
- The procedures are uniform and nondiscriminatory.
- Any person who believes there is a violation of Title III (past, present or future) may file a complaint.
- Complaints shall be in writing and notarized, signed and sworn by the person filing the complaint.
- The state may consolidate complaints.
- The state shall provide an appropriate remedy if it finds a violation has occurred.
- If no violation is found, the complaint shall be dismissed and the results of the procedures published.
- Complaints shall have a final resolution within 90 days of the complaint being filed, unless the complainant consents to a longer period.
- If the complaint cannot be resolved within that period, an alternative dispute resolution procedure must be provided.
This complaint procedure is intended to be less formal than most administrative procedures, with potential violations being more likely to represent system-wide problems than individual voting rights. Thus, the possible remedies will be less personal in nature. Therefore, the Virgin Islands propose to implement these requirements in the following manner, through appropriate administrative rules adopted by the Joint Boards of Election:
- The procedures are solely for complaints alleging a violation of Title III, including voting system standards, instructions on correcting voting errors, ID requirements for voting in federal elections if registration was by mail, computerized voter registration, contents of registration forms, and provisional voting.
- Complaints will be accepted only if made in writing, signed under oath by the person filing the complaint and notarized. The complaint must be filed directly with the Office of the Supervisor of Elections. The Office of the Supervisor of Elections will provide a form on-line that contains the required elements. Elections officials will be encouraged to resolve HAVA complaints informally if possible, but if a person wishes to file a formal complaint, the complaint must be provided and the person directed to submit it to the Office of the Supervisor of Elections
- Hearing on the record The informal hearing is intended to affect a resolution of the matter by reconciling the parties’ differences and/or rectifying the alleged action(s). If, after preliminary review of the matter, it is the judgment of the Supervisor of Elections that the Office of the Supervisor of Elections should not address the case, the informal procedure shall be terminated and the Supervisor of Elections shall advise the complainant of other available procedures that are available to them.
If the Supervisor of Elections finds that the Office of the Supervisor of Elections should address the complaint, the Supervisor of Elections will initiate the informal complaint procedure. The Supervisor of Elections may communicate directly with the respondent
specifically, outlining the alleged infractions and attempt to resolve the matter. If this resolves the complaint, no other person will be contacted. The Supervisor of Elections may also meet both parties, make inquiries to ascertain pertinent fact, and consult with others to facilitate the process. If, under this procedure, it is determined that there is a violation of any provision of Title III, an appropriate remedy shall be instituted. If, under this procedure, it is determined that there is no violation of any provision of Title III, the complaint shall be dismissed and the results of the procedures shall be published. If this option does not resolve the matter, all other options remain open to the complainant.
- Appropriate remedy: A remedy must be in conformance with territorial elections law and will not include financial payments to complainants or civil penalties for election officials, even if it is determined that a
- Violation of Title III has occurred. Remedies may include written findings that a violation of Title III has occurred, strategies for insuring that violation does not occur again and, if it appears that the complaint involves a systemic problem, possible actions by the Office of the Supervisor of Elections to provide better instructions, training, or procedures for all election officials to avoid future violations.
- Publish the results: Office of the Supervisor of Elections will publish the results of all complaints so that the public can see the outcome, by posting the closing letters to the system’s website, with links based on who filed the complaint, or a date, or a topic.
- Make a final determination in 90 days: When charges of a problem/violation are substantiated and probable cause is determined. The appropriate District Board, in consultation with the Supervisor of Elections, will render a determination regarding the proposed disciplinary and/or corrective action. The Supervisor of Elections input will be limited to issues presented in the case and specific questions regarding compliance with federal and territorial mandates. Decisions regarding corrective action shall be exclusively the province of the appropriate District Board. The District Board will be responsible for the implementation of all such disciplinary/corrective action. At a minimum, the action taken should be designed to protect the complainant from any future procedural or statutory violations. Consistent with the Election System’s employee confidentiality policies, the complainant may not be fully advised of actions imposed. The District Board, in consultation with the Attorney General, will determine whether further hearing opportunities are required prior to determination of proposed discipline. The territory shall make a final determination with respect to the complaint prior to the expiration of the 90-day period, which begins on the date; the complaint is filed, unless the complainant consents to a longer period for making such a determination. If the territory fails to meet the deadline 90-day period, the complaint shall be resolved within 60 days under alternative dispute resolution procedure. The record and other material from any proceeding conducted under the complaint procedures shall be made available for use under the alternative dispute resolution procedure.
- The alternative dispute resolution procedures will be mediation. It is mandated pursuant to P.L. 107-252 section 402(1) (I). Upon preliminary review of the allegations, the Joint Board of Elections will determine whether the case is appropriate for mediation. Examples of those that may not be appropriate for mediation include complaints that involve discrimination against a group or class, reflect a pattern and practice of discrimination, or criminal violation. (This is not an exhaustive listing). If the complainant’s selection of mediation is appropriate, the Supervisor of Election will initiate the mediation process within fifteen (15) business days. The Supervisor of Election may serve as the mediator or assign the case to a mediator. The mediator must be neutral, objective, and agreeable to both parties. The mediator will promptly arrange a meeting of both parties, during which the parties will develop a memorandum of understanding as to the purpose and scheduling of the mediation sessions. The mediator will preserve this documentation. At the conclusion of the successful mediation, the parties will develop and the mediator will preserve an agreement for resolution of the complaint and future interactions between both parties. The written agreement will be signed by both parties and submitted to the Supervisor of Elections. The agreement will take effect immediately according to its own terms.