Voters may be surprised to see Wayne “Facts Man” Adams on their 2020 General Election ballots.
The St. Thomas resident died shortly after ballots were printed and finalized, meaning his name remains on the ballot as a Senate candidate for the St. Thomas-St. John district.
So, what happens if he finishes in the top seven?
According to V.I. Elections officials, Adams was a member of the Independent Citizens Movement (ICM) party. If he were to place in the top seven, the next ICM candidate in line — regardless of how many votes they received — would essentially take his place.
That means an ICM candidate at the bottom of the vote count could potentially leapfrog over better-performing Democrats and Independent candidates, simply by virtue of being an ICM candidate.
On the St. Thomas-St. John ballot, the only other ICM candidate is Stephen “Smokey” Frett.
If both Adams and Frett were to finish in the top seven, then Adams will be replaced by the next highest vote-getter, regardless of party.
This process, while not stated in the V.I. Code, is essentially a “gentleman’s agreement,” according to V.I. Elections Supervisor Caroline Fawkes, a longstanding agreement that political parties can replace their candidates should one of them die or withdraw.
The practice is followed in other states. Earlier this month, a Republican candidate for the North Dakota State Legislature died of the COVID-19 virus yet will remain on the November ballot. Media reports indicate that if the candidate — David Andahl, 55, of Bismarck — were to win, the state Republican Party would be allowed to appoint his replacement.
The Daily News reached out to ICM Territorial Chair Jacquel Dawson for comment, but did not receive a response by press time.
Local Democratic State Chair Glen Smith took the process in stride, insisting “the law is the law.”
“There might be a need to review [this process] because I don’t like how it smells, but it could have been the other way around with a Democrat,” he said.
Smith praised Adams as a beloved Virgin Islander who loved politics and his community.
Adams died on Sept. 26, prior to the territory’s early voting period.