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Board Certifies Nov. 4th Election and Brown's Seat

The D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics voted to certifiy the Nov. 4th election today, including the election of Michael Brown as an Independent at-large member of the D.C. Council.

The board made the move despite the D.C. Republican Party's continued effort to block certifying the vote on the grounds that D.C. law prohibits four at-large members from all belonging to the majority party. It requires at least one be a member of a minority party.

The GOP argues that Brown is affiliated with the Democratic Party and became an independent simply to seek office.

The board voted 3 to 0 to certify the general election, which saw 62 percent of D.C.'s registered voters cast ballots, or 266,871 residents.

The majority of voters overwhelmingly supported now President-elect Barack Obama. The election also saw the defeat of local Republican Council member Carol Schwartz and the victory of Brown, the son of Ron Brown, the former head of the Democratic National Committee who died in a plane crash.

"We are disappointed but not surprised about the Board certification of Michael Brown," said Paul Craney, executive director of the local GOP, which is now considering making its case to the D.C. Court of Appeals. "We will preserve all of our legal options going forward, and we will do everything that we can to ensure that District laws are followed and the rights of members of minority parties are protected and there is diversity in the District government."

Last week the local GOP filed a formal challenge against Brown, but on Friday, Ken McGhie, the board's attorney, wrote the GOP that its claim had no merit.

"Michael Brown ran as a Democratic, was a Democrat and is a Democrat," Craney said. "He only changed his party affiliation to run for office, but he is still a Democrat, and District law states that not more than three at-large members may be affiliated with the same party, and that includes the chairman of the D.C. Council."

"We like to think that we are here to be a strong minority party and not just to be a go- along-to-get-along group."

Board spokesman Dan Murphy said, "The board considered the challenge by the Republican Party and determined that Mr. Brown was eligible to run for office as an independent."

Michael Brown told the D.C. Wire yesterday, "I am extremely pleased that the Board of Elections has certified the election. I am ready to get to work for the residents of the District of Columbia."

Regarding his political status, Brown added, "My voter registration card says that I am independent, my petition says that I am independent, but my heart and values rest in the democratic principles that this country was founded on."

Brown said, "There have been several examples nationally and locally in my situation, from Sen. Joseph Leiberman to Council member Carol Schwartz, who ran as an independent write-in candidate after she was defeated in the September primary as a Republican."

D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray, said, "I think that Michael Brown is clearly an independent in the District, regardless of his history and past ideology, but the more fundamental question is why should we have such a rule in the first place."

District voting rights advocate Eugene Kinlow, who was at the council yesterday to speak on behalf of the effort to rename a street in the District "Taxation Without Representation Street," said when it comes to the law, "Why should we have a quota system for Republican and independents in the city?"

Hamil R. Harris

By Hamil Harris  |  November 24, 2008; 5:00 PM ET
Categories:  2008 District Election  
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Mr. Brown is in error by stating that Mrs Schwartz ran as an "independent write in." She did not change her pary affiliation and ran as a write in who was still a registered Republican. In fact, she would have been unable, due to BOEE rules to even change her party affiliation after the primary before the general, the window was closed.

Posted by: DeniseW | November 25, 2008 9:18 AM | Report abuse

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