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The Wire Tries to Do Its Civic Duty

Problems at the DC Board of Elections and Ethics aren't confined to a backlog of voter registration forms. It seems that the DCBOEE might also be a little too eager to grant registrations.

Citizen D.C. Wire tried to register to vote while obtaining a driver's license at the DMV in early September. (Yes, former Washington Post editor Len Downie didn't vote , but lowly Citizen Journalists are free to.) As the Oct. 6 registration deadline approached, a worried D.C. Wire called the DCBOEE when a voter registration card failed to appear. DCBOEE told D.C. Wire that there was a backlog of registration forms, but that DMV forms sometimes got lost, and that D.C. Wire should register online just to be sure.

The fruit of those efforts arrived Wednesday at D.C. Wire's doorstep: two registration cards, one for "Michael J Birnbaum" (one of D.C. Wire's many aliases) and one for "Michael Jonathan Birn baum" (not one of the aliases, but fairly close).

D.C. Wire is a Chicago native, and was initially excited to be able to live up to the city's injunction to "vote early, vote often" (variously attributed to Al Capone and mayors "Big Bill" Thompson and Richard J. Daley ) but decided to give the DCBOEE a call.

DCBOEE spokesman Dan Murphy confirmed that D.C. Wire had been registered twice.

"It definitely is something that is not a good thing by any means," Murphy said. "Because the name was slightly different, it wasn't flagged by the system as a dupe."

But double registrations would typically be caught by poll workers on Election Day, he said.

"It would be the same person checking you in both times," he said. Still, "since it's a presidential election, there's a chance that a poll worker who sees you in the morning won't remember you by the evening."

Murphy had Michael Jonathan Birn baum striked from the voter rolls. Score one loss for the Chicago way.

Michael Birnbaum

By Marcia Davis  |  October 17, 2008; 12:30 PM ET
Categories:  2008 District Election  
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