Politics of the United States Virgin Islands

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. The 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 vote in United States presidential election and 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. Virgin Islands residents can vote fully in all elections if they become a resident of one of the 50 U.S. states, while residents of one of the 50 states who become residents of the Virgin Islands 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[1] pending to provide Virgin Islanders with the fundamental right to be represented in Congress and vote for U.S. President.[2] The federal case is Civil No. 3:11-cv-110, Charles v. U.S. Federal Elections Commission.[3] A similar case was filed in the Superior Court of the Virgin Islands against the local Board of Elections.[4] 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.[5] The local case is also pending a decision.


The Revised Organic Act of the Virgin Islands of 1954[6] 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[7] and earlier temporary provisions.[8]

It was subsequently amended in 1958 to prohibit political or religious tests, but required a loyalty oath as qualification to any office or public trust.[9] The Virgin Islands Elective Governor Act[10] made the Governor an elected office,[11] and further amendments in 1984 removed the right to indictment for certain crimes and the jurisdiction of the admiralty courts.[12]

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

Main office holders
Office Name Party Since
President of the United States Barack Obama Democratic 20 January 2009
Governor Kenneth Mapp Independent 5 January 2015
Lieutenant Governor Osbert Potter Independent 5 January 2015

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

Territorial Cabinet

Department Office Incumbent in Office since
Department of FinanceCommissionerAngel E. Dawson, Jr.*
Department of JusticeAttorney General, (acting)Claude Walker2015
Office of Management & BudgetDirectorDebra Gottlieb*
Department of EducationCommissionerSharon McCollum, PhD.2015
Department of Public WorksCommissionerGustav James2015
Department of Sports, Parks & RecreationCommissionerPedro Cruz2015
Department of PoliceCommissionerDelroy Richards2015
Department of Property & ProcurementCommissionerLynn A. Millin Maduro*
Department of TourismCommissionerBeverly Nicholson Doty2007
Department of AgricultureCommissionerDr. Louis E. Petersen, Jr.*
Department of LaborCommissionerAlbert Bryan, Jr.*
Department of HealthCommissionerJulia Sheen-Aaron*
Department of Human ServicesCommissionerChristopher E. Finch*
Department of Planning & Natural ResourcesCommissioner, (acting)Alicia Barnes*
Department of Licensing & Consumer AffairsCommissionerDevin Carrington, Esq.*
Division of PersonnelCommissionerMilton Potter2015
Office of Collective BargainingDirectorValdemar Hill, Jr.*
Internal Revenue BureauDirectorMarvin L Pickering, EA, PHR, ATA, ATP2015
Department of Fire ServicesDirector, (acting)Steve Brow*
National GuardAdjutant GeneralGen. Renaldo Rivera*
VITEMADirector, (designee)Elton Lewis*
Inspector GeneralInspector GeneralSteven G. van Beverhoudt*
Department of Veteran's AffairsDirectorMorris D. Moorehead*
Economic Development AuthorityChief Executive OfficerPercival Clouden*
Bureau of Economic ResearchDirectorLauritz Mills*
Motor Vehicle BureauDirectorLawrence Olive2015

Legislative branch

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.

Political parties and elections

For other political parties, see List of political parties in the U.S. Virgin Islands. An overview on elections and election results is included in Elections in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Judicial branch

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

Administrative divisions

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.


  1. ALDETH LEWIN (Daily News Staff). "Conference, lawsuit focus on citizenship rights for residents of U.S. territories". virginislandsdailynews.com.
  2. Michael Todd (Daily News Staff). "V.I. attorney waging battle to gain federal vote for USVI". virginislandsdailynews.com.
  3. http://sunlawvi.com/RTV%20Packet%20%28DC%29.pdf
  4. "United States Virgin Islands - THE TRIAL WARRIOR BLOG". thetrialwarrior.com.
  5. Voice of Russia Radio, Audio interview of the Attorney Pate at 1/3 through the audio stream.
  6. Pub.L. 83–517, 68 Stat. 497, enacted July 22, 1954
  7. Pub.L. 74–749, 49 Stat. 1807, enacted June 22, 1936
  8. Pub.L. 64–389, 39 Stat. 1132, enacted March 3, 1917
  9. Pub.L. 85–851, 72 Stat. 1094, enacted August 28, 1958
  10. Pub.L. 90–496, 82 Stat. 837, enacted August 23, 1968
  11. Pub.L. 98–213, 97 Stat. 1459, enacted December 8, 1983
  12. Pub.L. 98–454 Pub.L. 98–454, 98 Stat. 1732, enacted October 5, 1984
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