Politics of the United States Virgin Islands

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This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
the United States Virgin Islands

Politics of the United States Virgin Islands takes place in a framework of a presidential representative democratic dependency, whereby the Governor is the head of the local government, and of a multi-party system. United States Virgin Islands are an unincorporated and organized territory of the United States, administered by the Office of Insular Affairs of the United States Department of the Interior. Executive power is exercised by the local government of the Virgin Islands. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.

Virgin Islands residents are U.S. citizens but cannot cast electoral votes for the president of the U.S. but they can participate in the presidential nominating processes (caucuses).[1] Citizens cannot elect voting members of Congress. However, in the U.S. House of Representatives, they are represented by a delegate, who can vote in congressional committees but not in the House itself. Such delegates can speak on the U.S. House floor, introduce bills and offer amendments but cannot vote during business as the Committee as the Whole or on final passage of legislation. The USVI has been allowed to have non-voting representation since 1972. The current Delegate to the United States House of Representatives from the U.S. Virgin Islands is Stacey Plaskett.[2]

Virgin Islands residents can vote fully in all elections if they become a resident of one of the 50 U.S. states. If residents of one of the 50 states become residents of the Virgin Islands, they can no longer vote for President or for voting members of Congress.

A federal lawsuit since 2011 in the District Court of the Virgin Islands and now before the Washington, D.C., Circuit Court is currently[3] pending to provide Virgin Islanders with the fundamental right to be represented in Congress and vote for U.S. President.[4] The federal case is Civil No. 3:11-cv-110, Charles v. U.S. Federal Elections Commission.[5] A similar case was filed in the Superior Court of the Virgin Islands against the local Board of Elections.[6] The cases allege it was racial discrimination present in an all-white and segregated Congress of 1917 that was the impetus to deny the right to vote to a majority non-white constituency.[7] The local case is also pending a decision.


The Revised Organic Act of the Virgin Islands of 1954[8] is the current Organic Act defining the government of the United States Virgin Islands, which were acquired by the United States through the Treaty of the Danish West Indies of 1916. It replaced the Organic Act of the Virgin Islands of 1936[9] and earlier temporary provisions.[10]

The Virgin Islands Elective Governor Act[11] made the Governor an elected office,[12] and further amendments in 1984 removed the right to indictment for certain crimes and the jurisdiction of the admiralty courts.[13]

There have been several attempts at a constitution. The most recent attempt was the Fifth Constitutional Convention of the U.S. Virgin Islands which passed a proposed constitution in May 2009 but was rejected by Congress in June 2010.

Executive branch[edit]

Main office holders
Office Name Party Since
President of the United States Donald Trump Republican 20 January 2017
Governor Albert Bryan Democratic 7 January 2019
Lieutenant Governor Tregenza Roach Democratic 7 January 2019

The governor and the lieutenant governor are elected on the same ticket by popular vote for four-year terms.

Territorial Cabinet[edit]

Department Office Incumbent in Office since
Department of Finance Commissioner Angel E. Dawson, Jr. *
Department of Justice Attorney General, (acting) Claude Walker 2015
Office of Management & Budget Director Debra Gottlieb *
Department of Education Commissioner Sharon McCollum, PhD. 2015
Department of Public Works Commissioner Gustav James 2015
Department of Sports, Parks & Recreation Commissioner Pedro Cruz 2015
Department of Police Commissioner Delroy Richards 2015
Department of Property & Procurement Commissioner Lynn A. Millin Maduro *
Department of Tourism Commissioner Beverly Nicholson Doty 2007
Department of Agriculture Commissioner *
Department of Labor Commissioner not filled *
Department of Health Commissioner Julia Sheen-Aaron *
Department of Human Services Commissioner Christopher E. Finch *
Department of Planning & Natural Resources Commissioner, (acting) Alicia Barnes *
Department of Licensing & Consumer Affairs Commissioner Devin Carrington, Esq. *
Division of Personnel Commissioner Milton Potter 2015
Office of Collective Bargaining Director Valdemar Hill, Jr. *
Internal Revenue Bureau Director Marvin L Pickering, EA, PHR, ATA, ATP 2015
Department of Fire Services Director, (acting) Steve Brow *
National Guard Adjutant General Gen. Renaldo Rivera *
VITEMA Director, (designee) Elton Lewis *
Inspector General Inspector General Steven G. van Beverhoudt *
Department of Veteran's Affairs Director Morris D. Moorehead *
Economic Development Authority Chief Executive Officer Percival Clouden *
Bureau of Economic Research Director Lauritz Mills *
Motor Vehicle Bureau Director Lawrence Olive 2015

Legislative branch[edit]

The Virgin Islands's territorial legislature is the 15-member Legislature of the Virgin Islands. The body is unicameral and comprises seven Senators from the district of Saint Croix, seven Senators from the district of Saint Thomas and Saint John, and one Senator at-large (who must be a resident of Saint John). They are elected for a two-year term to the territorial legislature. There is no limit as to the number of terms they can serve.[14]

Political parties and elections[edit]

Judicial branch[edit]

The U.S. Virgin Islands has a District Court, a Supreme Court and a Superior Court.

Judges on the District Court are appointed by the President for ten year terms, subject to Senate confirmation. They may serve more than one term. This is a federal court, established in 1936, with jurisdiction over the US Virgin Islands, with diversity jurisdiction and bankruptcy jurisdiction. Appeals of this court's decisions are heard by the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. One courthouse is located in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, and one is in Christiansted, St. Croix.[15]

Judges of the USVI Supreme Court and Superior Court are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the legislative body.

Administrative divisions[edit]

There are no first-order administrative divisions as defined by the U.S. Government, but there are three islands at the second order; Saint Croix, Saint John, and Saint Thomas.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "Presidential election in the U.S. Virgin Islands, 2016". Ballotpedia. Ballotpedia. July 1, 2016. Retrieved February 24, 2017.
  2. ^ "United States congressional non-voting members". Ballotpedia. Ballotpedia. July 1, 2016. Retrieved February 24, 2017.
  3. ^ ALDETH LEWIN (Daily News Staff). "Conference, lawsuit focus on citizenship rights for residents of U.S. territories". virginislandsdailynews.com.
  4. ^ Michael Todd (Daily News Staff). "V.I. attorney waging battle to gain federal vote for USVI". virginislandsdailynews.com.
  5. ^ http://sunlawvi.com/RTV%20Packet%20%28DC%29.pdf
  6. ^ "United States Virgin Islands - THE TRIAL WARRIOR BLOG". thetrialwarrior.com.
  7. ^ Voice of Russia Radio, Audio interview of the Attorney Pate at 1/3 through the audio stream. Archived 2012-04-26 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Pub.L. 83–517, 68 Stat. 497, enacted July 22, 1954
  9. ^ Pub.L. 74–749, 49 Stat. 1807, enacted June 22, 1936
  10. ^ Pub.L. 64–389, 39 Stat. 1132, enacted March 3, 1917
  11. ^ Pub.L. 90–496, 82 Stat. 837, enacted August 23, 1968
  12. ^ Pub.L. 98–213, 97 Stat. 1459, enacted December 8, 1983
  13. ^ Pub.L. 98–454 Pub.L. 98–454, 98 Stat. 1732, enacted October 5, 1984
  14. ^ "Legislature of the Virgin Islands". Ballotpedia. Ballotpedia. July 1, 2016. Retrieved February 24, 2017.
  15. ^ "District Court of the Virgin Islands". Ballotpedia. Ballotpedia. July 1, 2016. Retrieved February 24, 2017.