Denying Democracy to Ourselves…

I was deeply disturbed to find out over the weekend that my change of party request was never processed by the District of Columbia’s Board of Elections and Ethics prior to the April 2012 primary. In the week leading up to the March deadline to change party status I went down to One Judiciary Square to fill out my change of party application so that I could vote in a contested primary. After filling out the form a staffer printed out a receipt to confirm the processing of my request. Two weeks later I received in the mail what appeared to be a new voter ID card addressed to a fictional person with my last name. I was very concerned that somehow my form got mixed with someone else’s form creating a new voter at my address. I called DC BOEE to inform them of this problem and was told not to worry about it and that I should just put “return to sender” on the envelope which contained the new ID card and that DC BOEE would remove the name from the voter rolls.

Fearing that my request to change party had not been processed I went down to One Judiciary Square to vote early to avoid problems on Election Day. When I identified myself, my name was still listed as a voter with my previous party affiliation not with the party I had requested to change to. I explained to the election worker my situation and pulled out the receipt from my change of party request. She then went and found a supervisor who gave me a provisional ballot and said to me “you did everything correctly, just put this receipt in with your provisional ballot and then we’ll know you’re okay.” The man repeatedly said “don’t worry, it’s on us to get this corrected. Once we see the receipt we’ll make sure it’s taken care of.” So I voted and followed his instructions. In retrospect I should have made a copy of that receipt before putting it in the provisional ballot/envelope but I naively trusted the electoral process.

Two weeks ago, out of curiosity I checked my party affiliation on the website and it’s still listed as my previous party which I couldn’t believe. And then over the weekend as my wife and I were planning to go vote early in the Ward 5 Special Election at Turkey Thicket we got in the mail a reminder to go vote from DC BOEE for myself, my wife, and this new fictional person. Stunned, I then checked the status of my provisional ballot online and found out the ballot had been rejected (since my registration never changed I could still vote in the Special Election for Ward 5 Council).

Quite frankly, I find what happened completely unacceptable. I did everything according to the rules and regulations that govern the democratic process in our city and yet through neglect or incompetence my vote in April’s Primary Election was denied. My vote is something I hold extremely dear to who I am and what I believe. I have been working tirelessly for the Statehood cause for the last year because I believe that every vote in America and every voter should count. But to know that our own internal District democratic processes are flawed due to human error gives me real cause for concern. It’s bad enough that we have to have our national vote denied by our Congressional overseers but to have this right denied by neglect or incompetence because of our own people hurts even more.

I have emailed the DC Board of Elections and Ethics to find out why my vote was denied and to ensure that this fictional person created by a clerical error is removed permanently from voter rolls to avoid future fraud. I’ve lived and voted at this address since 2002 and the previous owners lived here since the 1960s so I know this person is a new creation, probably as a result of human error.

I worry that because this happened to me and my vote it could have happened to others and I want to make sure that it’s prevented in the future. We deserve better than this in the District and should not let one good vote go uncounted. Free and fair elections can only happen if every vote counts and every vote is counted.

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