Sunday, November 28, 2010

D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics and the November 2nd General Election

The D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics will hold a special meeting tomorrow, November 29, at 5:30 p.m. to certify the results of the November 2nd General Election. The open meeting will be held in Room 280-North of the One Judiciary Square Building at 441 Fourth Street, N.W. For more information the public is instructed to call the Board’s General Counsel’s office at 727-2194.

And the next day, Tuesday, November 30, at 10:00 a.m. the City Council’s Committee on Government Operations and the Environment chaired by Councilmember Mary Cheh will hold a public oversight roundtable on the administration of the November Election. According to the Committee’s public notice, roundtable topics will include the adjustments made by the Board in poll worker training and functioning of precincts, technological fixes, and the handling of electronic media, between the September Primary Election and the November General Election. The public notice further states that there will be a discussion about how those adjustments ameliorated problems experienced during the September Primary Election and what further adjustments are still necessary to improve voting in the District of Columbia. The roundtable will be held in room 412 of the John A. Wilson Building at 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Anyone wishing to testify should contact Committee staff at 724-8062.

It will be enlightening to hear about the “adjustments” made by the Board to “ameliorate” the problems experienced in September. Will they be the same or some of the same problems that the public brought to the attention of the Board’s Chairman Togo West and Councilmember Cheh? Or do those problems remain?

Monday, September 27, 2010

More Room on the Outside in the Roundup

On the night of the September 14 Primary Election, I was a guest along with journalist Pete Tucker on More Room on the Outside hosted by Dr. Baruch and Toussaint Tingling-Clemmons.

The program was about observations that Pete and I made while visiting polling places during the day. As Election Education Inc. observers, we were joined by former DC Board of Elections and Ethics’ Precinct Captain Kenlee Ray, who is seen here with me in a photograph taken by Pete. In total we visited and surveyed 20 polling places distributed among the District’s eight wards. A report of our findings will be made available on October 8.

The Fight Back has posted the More Room on the Outside interview on their website at When you get there, move the time bar to 31:00.

More Room on the Outside, which airs on public television, can be seen on DCTV on Comcast channels 95 and 96; RCN channels 10 and 11; and Verizon FIOS Channels 10, 11, and 28.

Friday, September 24, 2010

News Roundup of Primary Election Problems

Voters, candidates, elected officials, election observers, and pollworkers reported problems at the polling places for the Primary Election held last week on Tuesday, September 14.

I have pasted below a roundup of news articles and television broadcasts of the problems reported in the local media. I am interviewed in the first three posted below.

You will find that some of the 20 articles contain information that is repetitive; however, I believe it is important to see the breadth of the reporting. And I am sure there is more from other media outlets that I have missed. If you know of any, feel free to send a message to me with the link to

TBD News Channel 8

BOEE’s Performance On Election Day at and search for my name.


New Voting Machines Cause of Delays at

The Washington Post

DC Board of Elections, Scolded By Politicians, Defends Counting Pace, Cites Crushing Pressures at

Live Blog: D.C. Primary Day Evening – Returns Trickle In at

Judge Rejects Gray’s Request To Extend D.C. Voting at

Once Again, Delays Plague Counting of Ballots InThe District at

The Washington Times

Gray’s Campaign Threatens Legal Action If Voting Hours Not Extended at

Delays Occur In Results For D.C. Primary Races at

D.C. Mayor Fenty Loses To Gray In Democratic Primary at

The Washington Examiner

Gray Asks Elections To Toss Fenty Votes at

There May Be No Quick Call In D.C. Mayoral Race at

Election Board Problems Mar D.C. Mayor’s Race, Delay Results at

UPDATE: Judge Denies Voting Hours Extension at

Washington City Paper

Vince Gray Takes Charge at

Democracy Threatened By Missing Seal at

Watch A Working D.C. Voting Machine at

Five Things That Made Voters Mad at


Down For The Count at and


Voting Problems At Some D.C. Polls at
Problems Reported At Polls at

Friday, September 10, 2010

D.C.’s Early Vote Centers Have Had Overnight Security

After disclosing at a press briefing on Wednesday, August 25, that there would not be any overnight security at D.C.’s Early Vote Centers, the DCBOEE ultimately added the presence of Protective Services at the Centers.

The announcement came at the regular meeting of the DCBOEE last week in response to a question posed to the Members of the Board by a public witness. During the public matters portion of the Board’s agenda, the Board’s Executive Director Rokey Suleman responded that “yes, security had been provided since the opening of the centers” on Saturday, August 30.

This was welcomed news considering the possibility of not only vote tampering of the machines left unattended overnight, but also vandalism that could have occurred at the four Centers.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Security Concerns At D.C.’s Early Vote Centers

Recently, I have been raising my concern about security at the District’s four Early Vote Centers, which will open this Saturday, September 4, and continue through Saturday, September 11 (excluding Sundays). The Centers will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and only electronic touch-screen voting machines will be available to voters in the Centers.

In today’s The Washington Times, Deborah Simmons’ article “Early Voting in D.C. Stirs Fear Over Ballot Security” at addresses my concerns and those of others about the security at the Centers.

At last week’s special meeting of the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics (DCBOEE), a public witness reminded the DCBOEE that three of the four Centers will be located in public facilities owned and operated by the District government.

They comprise a community center, a recreation center, and a junior high school which she stated are controlled by the Mayor who is seeking a second term in office. She raised her concern that the Mayor has unlimited access to these facilities at a time when he is in a heated election.

At a recent press conference, the DCBOEE Executive Director, Rokey Suleman, stated that the votes of the day in each of the Centers will be contained in the electronic machines overnight. Further, Suleman informed the group that when the Centers close at 7:00 p.m. on September 11, the machines will contain all the votes cast in the respective centers.

When questioned, Suleman demonstrated the DCBOEE’s use of security tape and locks on the voting machines. He informed the group that these measures will reveal if the machines have been tampered with while unattended overnight.

I do not believe this is enough security.

When it comes to elections, perception is everything. I encourage the DCBOEE to hire overnight security for all four of the Early Vote Centers.

Why cast doubt on the results of our September 14 Primary Election. After all, simple measures keep elections clean, fair, and transparent.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Keep Politics Out Of The Electoral Process

This morning I testified to keep politics out of the electoral process at a special meeting of the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics (Board)

D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty, who is seeking re-election to a second term, petitioned the Board to amend the provisions in the Board’s regulations to allow independent “no party” voters to vote in the upcoming September 14 Primary Election.

As I stated at the special meeting, District law does not allow a registered voter to change his or her party affiliation or an independent voter to register with a party within 30 days prior to an election.

It is the voter’s responsibility to declare their intention to be affiliated with a party or not on the Board’s Voter Registration Application which clearly states that:

To vote in a primary election, (emphasis provided) you must also:
· Be registered in the party holding the primary election for at least 30 days prior to the election.”

Further, under “Party Registration” on the application in section 9 the voter is required to “check one box” for the Democratic Party; Republican Party; D.C. Statehood Green Party; no party (independent); and other party (write name below) at which there is a line provided.

The following statement is also included in section 9:

PLEASE NOTE: (emphasis provided)
To vote in a primary election in the District of Columbia, you must be registered
with the Democratic, Republican or D.C. Statehood Green Party.”

And finally I pointed out that Mr. Fenty’s campaign chairman Bill Lightfoot is quoted in today’s edition of The Washington Post in which he is quoted stating that:

“…the mayor is trying to ‘give equal treatment’ to nonaffiliated voters. ‘Mayor
Fenty’s position is that as many people as possible should vote, especially those
who share his vision that education is our foundation,’ Lightfoot said.”

Nonaffiliated voters have and have had ample opportunity to either affiliate with any one of the three major parties or not prior to the September 14 Primary. If they chose not to do so then they cannot vote on September 14.

The Board closed it special meeting by issuing its decision in an Order to deny the Mayor Fenty’s petition.

I commend the Board for keeping politics out of the elctoral process.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Last Regularly Scheduled DCBOEE Meeting Before the September 14 Primary Election

The DC Board of Elections and Ethics (DCBOEE) will hold its regularly scheduled monthly meeting tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. in Room 280-North of the One Judiciary Square building at 441 Fourth Street, N.W.

Among other matters on the agenda which is posted on the BOEE Web site , the Executive Director will report on the preparations for the primary election and the General Counsel will report on the emergency and proposed rulemaking to amend the DCBOEE regulations regarding political and ethical conduct of Board Members, voter registration, election procedures, tabulation and certification of election results, and definitions.

This meeting was originally scheduled for August 4 and was postponed until tomorrow. Since then Togo West has been appointed to the Board and this will be his first meeting. However, with his appointment, a vacancy still exists on the Board.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

September Primary Nominating Petition Challenge Period Ended Yesterday at 5:00 P.M.

As the clock yesterday in the Voter Services Division of the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics (DCBOEE) was approaching 5:00 p.m., some D.C. voters were busy putting their finishing touches on their paper work for challenges to the nominating petitions of Democratic candidates for the September 14 Primary Election.

Valencia Mohammad filed challenges to the nominating petitions of mayoral candidates Carlos Allen and Sulaimon Brown and Dorothy Brizill and Gary Imhoff filed a challenge to mayoral candidate Leo Alexander’s petition. Chairman of the Council candidate Calvin Gurley’s nominating petition was challenged by Alonzo Edmondson.

Four challenges were filed to the nominating petitions of the five candidates seeking the Ward 5 City Council seat currently held by Harry Thomas, Jr. Cynthia M. Gill filed a challenge to Kathy Henderson’s petition; D.C. lawyer Cary Clennon is challenging Delano Hunter’s petition; and candidate Henderson is challenging both Kenyan McDuffie and Tracey D. Turner. Ward 6 Council candidate Randy Brown’s petition is being challenged by Jim Abely.

According to the DCBOEE election calendar for the Primary, the DCBOEE has until August 3 to determine the validity of the challenges. And August 6 is the last day for a challenger or any candidate named in a challenge to apply to the D.C. Court of Appeals for review.

Over the next few days, it will be interesting to see if any of the challenges are withdrawn by the challengers based on lack of evidence to challenge or “behind the scenes” negotiations between the candidates and challengers. It has happened before.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

DCBOEE Report on the Preparations for the September 2010 Primary Election on the DCBOEE Web Site

The D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics (DCBOEE) has posted its report to the Council's Committee on Government Operations and the Environment on the Preparations for the September 2010 Primary Election at

As required by the Council when it enacted the Omnibus Election Reform Act of 2009 (D.C. Law 18-103), the DCBOEE submitted its report on March 31, which was the 168th day before the upcoming September 14 Primary. The report outlines an ambitious agenda for changes to be completed in time for the Primary.

The report focuses on technology upgrades; management of the DCBOEE facilities and equipment; staffing and pollworker management; voter education and public information initiatives; and post-election activities.

Some of the salient points in the report are with regard to technology upgrades. This includes the purchase of new voting equipment from Election Systems and Software (ES&S), which I wrote about two postings ago. Using federal funds provided by the Help America Vote Act 2002, the District entered into an agreement to purchase 175 optical scan paper ballot voting machines; 200 touch screen voting machines with a paper audit trail and accessible for individuals with disabilities; two central count optical scan machines for absentee voting; and the software and peripheral equipment needed to run the system.

In addition, the Board purchased a mail sorting machine from Pitney Bowes for absentee voting. The machine assembles the absentee material to be sent to a voter, including the ballot.

At the time the report was submitted to the Committee, the Board was looking into other technological changes such as replacing the voting precincts' paper lists of voters with electronic poll books; online pollworker training; and tools for military and overseas voters.

It is already turning out to be an exciting Primary for voters, because of the candidates coming forward to run for public office; however, it is also turning out to be an exciting Primary for the DCBOEE and its staff, because of all teh changes to the voting process and the new technologies that will be used for the first time in September.

PR 18-792, the “District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics Mital Ghandi Confirmation Resolution of 2010"

Along with five other public witnesses, I provided testimony at the April 26, 2010, public roundtable on the nomination of Mital Ghandi to serve on the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics. The roundtable was conducted by Councilmember Mary Cheh, Chairman of the Committee on Government Operations and the Environment. I have pasted below my testimony from the hearing.

Good afternoon Councilmember Cheh and staff. I am a Ward One resident, the former Public Affairs and Program Development Manager for the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics (Board), and am a Certified Election/Registration Administrator. Thank you for the opportunity to comment on PR 18-792, the "District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics Mital Ghandi Confirmation Resolution of 2010".

The vacancy for which Board Nominee Mital Ghandi is seeking to fill has existed since February of 2009. The existence of the vacancy for such a long period of time on the three member Board is not fair to the two currently sitting Members and is not good for democracy. With the Council's approval, the Mayor can nominate individuals to fill D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics' vacancies with registered voters from either the D.C. Statehood Green or Republican parties or by a voter registered as an independent with no party affiliation.

I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Ghandi at a Board meeting when he was nominated the first time and spoke with him on the telephone over the weekend. I have found him to be a gracious man who wants to serve the District and is doing so as an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner for Single Member District 3E05 and is a member of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board.

As a nominee, I have a series of questions that I would like for Mr. Ghandi to answer on the public recored. They are:
  1. Does Mr. Ghandi plan to resign from his position as Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner 3E05 as a matter of conflict of interest as other Members of the Board have done in the past?
  2. District law does not allow Members of the Board to hold a paid office or employment in the District government. Does Mr. Ghandi plan to resign from his appointed position on the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board for which he receives a stipend?
  3. According to his resume, Mr. Ghandi served as an international election observer almost 5 1/2 years ago. Did Mr. Ghandi's interest in elections end in the Ukraine and start up again when Mayor Fenty wanted to nominate him to the Board?
  4. Why did he not step up in 2008 during the September Primary and November General Elections when the Board could have used his technological skills when the Board was severely challenged at the time?
  5. And finally, according to Mr. Ghandi's resume, his business, People Reach LLC, is a certified local small disadvantaged business enterprise (LSDBE). Does Mr. Ghanadi's company currently have any contracts with the District government which he would have to curtail if he is appointed to the Board?

In closing, the Board's Fiscal Year 2011 proposed budget has been reduced by approximately $100,000 which will adversely affect the Baord during two challenging elections later this year. As a result, the Board's effectiveness could suffer by cutting two permanent staff positions.

That is why I am wearing my "SOS" pin today which represents the Save Our Safety Net campaign supporting Councilmember Jim Graham's legislation for a Millionaire's Tax in the District of Columbia. I do not support making budget cuts on the backs of poor people or to the services of the Board as it works to keep our elections free, fair, and transparent.

This concludes my testimony and I am available to answer any questions you may have.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

DC's New Voting Machines

The DC Board of Elections and Ethics yesterday demonstrated the city’s new voting machines to be used in the upcoming September 14th Primary Election, which is only 159 days away from today. The machines were purchased from Election Systems and Software (ES&S)

The M100 paper ballot optical scan voting machine (top) and the ivotronic touch screen voting machine (bottom) were on display during the Board’s regularly scheduled meeting. The ivotronic is accessible for voters who are blind or with low vision capabilities and mobility disabilities.

At the Board’s public meeting, ES&S representatives emphasized the voter-verifiable voter record as required by D.C. Law 18-103, the Omnibus Election Reform Act of 2009. After the meeting, members of the public were invited to vote on the machines.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Revised Voter Registration Form

In compliance with District of Columbia Act 18-238, the “Omnibus Election Reform Act”,, the District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics (DCBOEE) recently revised its voter registration form

Changes to the form include:

· Information about the change in the age to vote in the District of Columbia which states that you must be at least 17 years old and be at least 18 years old by the next general election; and

· A yes or no question asking “Would you like information on serving as a poll worker for the next election?”.
As a result of the passage of the Act, 17 year old individuals can register and vote in a primary election, if they will be 18 by the next general election. The City Council’s Committee on Government Operations and the Environment (CGOE) reported that “according to testimony presented before the Committee almost half of the states have moved toward this policy because it ‘gives voting-age young people a voice in who appears on the general election ballot [and] encourages young people to vote in the first election for which they are eligible, which has been shown to promote lifelong political participation.’”

CGOE also reported that the Act reduces the age of pre-registration to 16 years old because it “would have the important effect of allowing all persons who register for a driver’s license to register to vote, and would likely increase voter registration in the District.”

Also included in the report, the Act requires the DCBOEE to “include a check-off for voters to signal their interest in being a polling place worker. This small change could have significant effects in polling place worker recruitment.” This is something that I had advocated for years and it took an Act of the City Council to finally get it done.

The DCBOEE took a step on its own and added a box on the form asking for an E-mail address of the applicant. Though the response is optional it will serve as an excellent tool to use to get in touch with the applicant if additional information or clarification is needed regarding the application.

All in all these are good changes that should help with increasing voter participation, recruiting poll workers, and administering the basic duty of the agency which is to register District of Columbia voters.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Poll Tax Eliminated On January 23, 1964

On this day in 1964, the 24th Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified to eliminate a poll tax as a prerequisite to voting.

The proposed amendment was passed by Congress on August 27, 1962, sent to the states, and ratified on January 23, 1964.

The full text follows:

Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.
Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

This was the right thing to do and should have been done long before 1964.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

In the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr., District of Columbia residents should exercise their freedom to register to vote, vote, and serve as pollworkers for the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethic (DCBOEE) on Election Day.

As an exemplary American, Dr. King is honored on this day for his service to our country working for equality.

The King Center is promoting A Day of Service to the community. I believe the Day of Service should be extended to include two more days for serving as pollworkers for the two regularly scheduled elections to be held later this year – the September 14 Primary and the November 2 General Elections.

It is through the volunteer efforts of D.C. registered voters that elections in our city run smoothly. DCBOEE always needs help to ensure the conduct of transparent and error-free elections.

Sixteen and 17 year old high school students can also work on Election Day through the Youth Pollworker Program

All pollworkers are paid a stipend for their volunteer efforts.

Community service was always a part of Dr. King’s messages and there is no better way to celebrate his life and legacy than to exercise our freedom to vote and to serve at the polls on Election Day.