Monday, November 30, 2009

DCBOEE Followed the Law Regarding the “Marriage Initiative of 2009”

On November 17, the District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics (DCBOEE) issued its decision that the “Marriage Initiative of 2009” is “not a proper subject of initiative because it would authorize discrimination prohibited under the Human Rights Act (‘HRA’).”

The DCBOEE’s memorandum opinion and order states that “[u]nder current law, the District recognizes same-sex marriages validly performed in other jurisdictions. The proposed Initiative seeks to prohibit the District from continuing to recognize these same-sex marriages. The Initiative instructs that ‘only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in the District of Columbia.’ If passed, the Initiative would, in contravention of the HRA, strip same-sex marriage couples of the rights and responsibilities of marriages currently recognized in the District.

“The District’s Initiative, Referendum and Recall Procedures Act requires the Board to refuse to accept referenda and initiatives which violate the HRA. Because the Initiative would authorize discrimination prohibited by the HRA, it is not a proper subject for initiative, and may not be accepted by the Board.

“ORDERED that the Initiative is RECEIVED BUT NOT ACCEPTED pursuant to D.C. Official Code § 1-1001.16(b)(2).”

The law is what it is.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Today In History

On this date in 1917, 41 suffragists were arrested when picketing outside the White House. According to, some, including Paul and Lucy Burns, go on a hunger strike while in jail. Of course, their militancy earns them sympathy from some and disdain from others.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Council of the District of Columbia Passes the “Omnibus Election Reform Act of 2009”

D.C. City Council’s second and final vote on Tuesday, November 3, on Bill 18-345, the “Omnibus Election Reform Act of 2009”, served as a major step forward for voting in the District of Columbia.

It will be remembered as the day when the City Council voted unanimously, with amendments, to make voting and registering to vote easier for D.C. residents. In addition, Bill 18-345 will hold the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics (DCBOEE) more accountable for the administration of elections.

During the Council’s November 3 deliberations on Bill 18-345, the bill was amended by:
• Requiring a voter who uses the same-day registration process, which allows a District of Columbia resident to register and vote on election day, to vote provisionally by casting a special ballot subject to the DCBOEE determination of eligibility before counting the ballot; and
• Retaining the provision in the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations, Title 3, Elections and Ethics, regarding certification that the circulator of a petition for an initiative or referendum “has not made any false statements regarding the initiative or referendum to anyone whose signature is appended to the petition.”

I support these amendments and believe they strengthen the bill.

Friday, November 6, 2009

DCBOEE Decision Is Still Pending on the “Marriage Initiative of 2009”

The District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics (DCBOEE) conducted a hearing on the “Marriage Initiative of 2009” on October 26 and has not issued an order of their decision.

During the “Public Matters” portion of the meeting of the DCBOEE on Wednesday the Members of the Board were asked by a citizen when they would issue their order for the Initiative. Board Chairman Errol Arthur replied that “they cannot put a timetable on it.” The citizen pressed on by asking, “Before Christmas?” He again replied that “they cannot put a timetable on it.”

In the meantime, you can read documents received by the DCBOEE related to the Initiative on the DCBOEE Web site at

There is nothing in the D.C. Election Laws or in the DCBOEE regulations that puts a “timetable” on when the Board must issue a decision on an initiative.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Today In History

On this day in 1872, suffragist Susan B. Anthony
is fined $100.00 for attempting to vote in a United States presidential election. She never paid the fine.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

D.C.’s Open Voter Roll Is in Stark Contrast to Virginia’s Strict Law Denying Access to Theirs

A recent article in The Washington Post reveals a stark contrast between D.C.’s open voter roll and Virginia’s strict law about who has access to theirs.

Reporter Frederick Kunkle reported that Know Campaign’s intention to use the voter roll, which included voter history, was going to be used for a “mass mailing “to “simply motivate people to vote” in the upcoming statewide election on November 3.

“Under Virginia law, the Board of Elections can furnish lists of voters only to the courts, the Department of Motor Vehicles, bona fide political candidates, political parties, political action committees and nonprofit groups that promote voter education or registration,” Kunkle reports. “The law further restricts access to voting histories, prohibiting the Board of Elections from giving the histories to anyone except candidates, elected officials or political party chairmen. Those who do obtain the lists are also required to sign a statement, under penalty of perjury, promising not to disseminate the information to those not authorized to have it.”

However, in the District of Columbia, anyone who has $10.00 can obtain a copy of D.C.’s voter roll including political party affiliations, registration dates, and voter histories. The same information is available for public review in hard copies in the Board’s office and in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Public Library.

Once purchased, D.C.’s voter roll can be used for political, nonpartisan, and commercial purposes. It can also be re-packaged and re-sold.

This is quite a contrast to Virginia’s law. Wouldn’t you say?