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Tempers Flare at D.C. Board of Elections

No results yet from the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics, but there has been a bit of a verbal throwdown between government watchdog Dorothy Brizill and election officials, according to the Post's Stephen Lowman, who is on the scene. Brizill was angered when officials said that they could not bring the dozen or so election observers, including her, to the tabulation room all at once. The officials said space was an issue, but Brizill countered that she had worked out an agreement ahead of time, Lowman said.

Tempers flared, as Brizill grew increasingly animated, which is not the first time the dcwatch.com co-founder has tangled with city officials.
Ultimately, a truce was reached, Lowman reports, as officials agreed to allow the observers into the room on a rotating basis.

Stay tuned...

By David A Nakamura  |  November 4, 2008; 9:21 PM ET
 
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Comments

Here’s what really happened at BOEE, and what's wrong in the above blog post. Prior to election night, I had secured the approval of the Board, at a public board meeting, to allow a few citizens who represented nonpartisan citizens organizations to observe the vote counting. I confirmed and reconfirmed that agreement, and informed them that representatives would come from the DC Federation of Citizens Association, the DC Federation of Civic Associations, the DC Affairs Section of the DC Bar, the NAACP, the ACLU-NCA, the DC Voter and Education Project, and DCWatch. We were supposed to get our observer credentials at 8:00 p.m. so that we would be in the counting center when voting machine cartridges and ballots began to arrive. Instead, we were barred from entering until after 9:30 p.m. The Board’s excuse for not honoring its agreement was that they had limited space, and that most of it was occupied by the League of Women Voters. Neither part of excuse was true, and the Post's reporter should have found that out; in fact, there was more than enough space for all eight (not twelve) members of our group, and no one from the LWV was at BOEE all night. For a fuller description of the evening’s events, see http://www.dcwatch.com/themail/2008/08-11-05.htm.

It’s true that I fought hard to get the Board’s chairman and general counsel to honor their agreement and their commitment to citizens, and that I was angry that they tried to renege on it. But it’s mystifying why David Nakamura uses this incident as a reason to denigrate me. It may be because he bears a grudge from having been caught exchanging snide, dismissive E-mails about me and other citizens with the mayor’s press secretary (http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/display.php?id=34681). In any case, that is no excuse for his linking to an old Washington Post article about an incident in which Fenty administration officials had me arrested on a false charge of assault, without informing his readers that the US Attorney’s office squashed the charge within a day because it did not believe, correctly, that the alleged incident ever occurred.

Here’s what we did observe at BOEE. The counting process was chaotic and disorganized. The Board and its executive director closeted themselves in their conference room most of the might, and they never once oversaw the work of their staff, temporary employees, or contractors (e.g., Sequoia). Open cases containing the original ballots were lined up in an open hallway, without security or a police guard, until we made an issue of it. The first results, from only twenty of DC’s 143 precincts, weren’t released until 10:30 p.m., an hour after they were actually tabulated; and final results weren’t released until 1:30 a.m. the next day. There is no reasonable explanation, and no excuse, for this long unnecessary delay. DC voters are right to be concerned about the management and integrity of the election process.

Posted by: DBrizill | November 6, 2008 2:22 PM | Report abuse

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