Tuesday, October 27, 2009

D.C. Federation of Citizens Association Focuses on Bill 18-345

At the D.C. Federation of Citizens Association (DCFCA) Delegate Assembly meeting tonight, I was asked the tough questions with regard to the District's voter roll and Bill 18-345. The Assembly paid special attention on the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics’ (DCBOEE) ability to implement the proposed changes in time for the 2010 elections.

As the keynote speaker at tonight’s meeting, DCFCA President Carroll Green asked me to address the question of "How does one reform a severely flawed system without first purging the rolls?" In an attempt to answer the question, I addressed the current actions being taken by the new DCBOEE Executive Director Rokey Suleman III and the limitations of federal election law. And, togehter, we reviewed and discussed Bill 18-345 and how it will impact the administration of elections in the District.

As active members in their respective communities, those present had anecdotal examples of how it could help and hurt D.C. voters.

Among others, the group zeroed in on the following issues:

• The additional impact on the pollworkers if same-day registration is enacted considering their regular duties, including curbside voting;

• The impact that same-day registration will have on an already bloated voter roll, including duplicate names and names of those who are deceased (a printout of voters was shared with the group);

• University students using same-day registration to vote in D.C.’s September primaries and then voting in their home states in the November general elections;

• The importance of voter education to ensure that voters are ready for the 2010 elections, and the possibility of involving the D.C. League of Women Voters;

• The need to educate voters about how to use the new voting machines to ensure that their votes are counted;

• The impact that same-day registration will have on turnout on Election Day with regard to the facilities used as polling places (entrance to St. John’s College was used as an example);

• The occurrence in a recent primary whereby voters were given party ballots for a party other than the one in which they were registered, according to the poll book; and

• Ensuring that voter cards issued on Election Day match the voters who signed the poll book and that they do not also receive and vote an absentee ballot.

It was a rewarding experience for me to have spent time with this informed group of individuals who are engaged in their communities.

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