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.