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Resignation of Board of Elections member jeopardizes primary

Washington Post Editors

Unless the D.C. Council and Mayor Adrian M. Fenty act fast, there might not be a Board of Elections to oversee the Sept. 14 Democratic primary.

Errol R. Arthur, chairman of the elections board, announced Monday he is resigning effective Aug. 2, to take another job, according to council sources.

Arthur's resignation means there will be two vacancies on the three-member board, meaning it would lack a quorum if it tries meet after that date.

Since February 2009, the board has been functioning with just two members because the council and the mayor have been unable to agree on a replacement for Lorrena Lenora Cole, the minority party member of the board who resigned following the 2008 elections. Recent decisions such as the board not allowing a referendum on whether to legalize same-sex marriage were decided by only two members.

Arthur's abrupt resignation is forcing some council members scramble behind-the-scenes to seek a quick consensus between Fenty and his chief rival in this year's mayor's race, Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D), over replacements for Arthur and Cole.

Council member David A. Catania (I-At large) said he and Council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) are trying to broker a consensus. They hope to have a list of potential replacements to the mayor and chairman within a day or two.

"Everyone understands this is a third rail and something you cannot mess with or play politics with, " Catania said." We are working off a list we think would be mutually agreeable."

Once nominees are agreed upon, the council will have to return from its summer recess to confirm them so they can be seated before the primary, Catania said. If the nominees are not seated, the board could be paralyzed just as the city is implementing its new early voting and same-day registration laws,

But Cheh, chairwoman of the committee that has oversight over city elections, said the board will make all major decisions pertaining to the primary before Arthur leaves in early August. The board also plans to temporarily grant more powers to its executive director, Rokey Suleman.

"I don't t want anyone to think there is any crisis or issue cause things are quite under control," Cheh said.

--Tim Craig

By Washington Post Editors  |  July 20, 2010; 3:17 PM ET
Categories:  2010 District Election  
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Next: Mayoral candidates busy tonight with Ward 2 straw poll, Ward 4 forum


Not again! What is in the water in D.C.? First this same, still-unresolved debacle with the WTU, now with DC Govt. politics? Unbelievable.

Posted by: schooletal | July 20, 2010 7:03 PM | Report abuse

Where is my comment; I commented on this story the moment that it came out and yet my comment was posted and now it is GONE!!!!????

Posted by: lacairaine | July 20, 2010 8:16 PM | Report abuse

it's "Lenora Cole," not "Lorrena Cole"

Posted by: politicsdc | July 20, 2010 8:46 PM | Report abuse

In my Wyclef voice "some please call 911". No really we need to get Eric Holder on the phone b/c I have a feeling that this will be Bush 2000 2.0 all over again.

Posted by: thelildiva4u | July 20, 2010 10:18 PM | Report abuse

lildiva, I hear you. Given what we already know about Emperor Adrian's integrity - and that of his gang - this is seriously scary.

Posted by: nan_lynn | July 20, 2010 10:36 PM | Report abuse

They need to have the feds come in and oversee this election.

Posted by: starclimber9 | July 20, 2010 11:25 PM | Report abuse

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