In an unexpected dramatic lead-in to the Republican caucuses in the U.S. Virgin Islands territory today, it turns out that some of the delegates on the ballot were actually not officially allowed to be delegates in the United States territory.
Literally hours before the caucuses were set to begin, a judge on the Virgin Islands ruled that voting may continue, even though there may be continued legal issues. At issue is the eligibility of delegate candidates John Yob and Ethan Eilon, as well as two other delegates connected with them, who appear to have recently moved to USVI explicitly with the intention of being undeclared delegates for the territory, in the Republican National Convention in November.
The problem is that USVI election law requires that all residents must have lived on the island territory for at least 90 days before being eligible to vote. And only eligible voters can participate as presidential delegates. The current legal action alleges that Yob and others falsified their information in order to get on the ballot. According to reports, Yob may have only been in the USVI for less than two weeks when he registered as an eligible voter, and lied to election officials in order to get on the delegate ballot.
This battle has found its way to court on the Virgin Islands. Early today, a judge rules that Yob could in fact vote in today’s caucuses, along with the rest of the territory. But, she emphasized that the legal battle was not over, and if Yob or any of the other three delegate candidates connected to him ended up winning a seat at the Republican National Convention, they might be at risk of being ruled as illegal delegates.
It’s such a confusing process that a small battle erupted on Reddit earlier tonight, with a Reddit moderator shutting down an active discussion thread based on the false suggestion that the Virgin Islands caucuses weren’t even going to be held until March 19.
But in fact, the caucuses did move forward as scheduled. As of 11 PM Atlantic Time, the territory reported that it is still counting votes.
A total of nine delegates are at stake in the U.S. Virgin Islands. US territories cannot vote in the general election, but they do get a say in the primary process to determine who the parties’ nominees will be. Democrats hold their caucuses on the Virgin Islands in June. Hopefully there will be less drama for that race.