Campaign Reform Alliance Fights Back
Barrington M. Salmon | , WI Staff Writer | 8/30/2012, 3:17 p.m.
The D.C. Public Trust filed a request for judicial review at the D.C. Superior Court on August 17 in a move challenging the determination of the D.C. Board of Elections that the group did not submit the valid signatures of registered voters to put Initiative 70 on the November ballot.
Activists with the group contend that the elections board undercounted duly registered voters and improperly disqualified others.
"Our review finds that Initiative 70 clearly qualified for the ballot, and we expect the court will agree," said Bryan Weaver, the Ward 1 activist who filed the initiative with the Board of Elections. "The work of the Board of Elections gets to the heart of our democracy. What we found in our review raises concerns about the integrity of the democratic process in local D.C. elections."
Trust officials said members of the group conducted two separate recounts of the board's work and found more than 24,500 voters identified as duly registered by the Board of Elections on submitted petition sheets, surpassing the 5 percent collection rate required by D.C. law. The group also found that it met the required 5 percent mark in six of eight wards.
The court filing seeks an expedited review of the board's work to reverse its initial determination and place Initiative 70 on the ballot on November 6.
All this comes after the Board of Elections invalidated about 1,700 signatures the committee had submitted. During the months prior to submitting the signatures, committee members gathered more than 30,000 names by canvassing neighborhoods and approaching voters at the polls.
Committee members said at the time that they would fight to ensure that the board's decision didn't jeopardize Initiative 70.
"What has happened is that the board has gone through its process of verifying voter registrations and addresses," said Initiative 70 Committee Chairman Sylvia B. Brown. "The 1,700 people identified are not registered at the addresses they needed to be. What the Initiative 70 team and a significant number of volunteers have been doing is reviewing the work of the board."
"I think their process has some flaws. We're looking at the markings made - there are some inconsistencies."
"We're going through line-by-line. There are a lot of questionable issues," he said. "For example, we've come across registered voters with different names such as John Wilson and Jonathan Wilson for the same person. There are also hyphenated names that are being questioned."
The most problematic issue, Weaver said, is a resident moving from one floor to another in an apartment building. They have not moved from the ward or to another polling place but that has become an issue.
"Ward 8 numbers have gone down dramatically because the information was not updated," he said. "We know they're legal voters. More than 80 percent of them are legal. Now, we're dealing with the numbers game."
Weaver, 42, and Brown said organization officials were not given a master list so a team of 20 people had to scour each page of the 30,000 signatures.