Tuesday, October 6, 2009

District of Columbia Bill 18-345, the "Omnibus Election Reform Act of 2009"

Bill 18-345, as reported out of the Committee on Government Operations and the Environment (CGOE) last Thursday, was on the City Council’s consent agenda today for its 16th Legislative Meeting. It remained on consent without any amendments. Tim Craig of The Washington Post reported on the bill’s highlights at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/06/AR2009100602091.html?hpid=newswell on D.C. Wire.

Earlier this morning, Councilmember Cheh, who chairs the CGOE, offered two amendments which were adopted in the additional Committee of the Whole meeting held before the Legislative Meeting.

Cheh amendment #1 eliminated the eligibility for D.C. government employees to work in the polling place without having to take leave on Election Day. The second Cheh amendment struck the proposed change in the bill to allow “residents of the District” to work at the polling place and inserted the phrase “qualified registered electors in the District” in its place.

In other words, current law remains intact. District government employees can take leave to work on Election Day as long as they are District of Columbia registered voters.

I believe the law should be changed, however, to allow D.C. government employees, who are registered voters in D.C., to take time off from work on Election Day, without having to take leave to work in D.C.’s polling places. Other jurisdictions allow it. There are advantages, because the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics would have computer-savvy, public oriented pollworkers who are used to working with flexibility for a full day.

In my opinion, government employees make good pollworkers.

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