State of Elections

William & Mary Law School | Election Law Society

Tag: Washington D.C.

Disenfranchised Citizens (D.C.): Over 670,000 Left Speechless

By: Mary Boothe

November is coming fast, and with it, a much anticipated election season. But, while many voters around the nation are looking forward to the opportunity to effect change at the presidential, congressional, and local levels, D.C. residents are looking forward to possibly changing their (lack of) statehood status in order to gain an equally representative voice within the federal government.

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District of Cannabis: Legislative Tampering in the Nation’s Capital

By: Randolph Critzer

The nation watched last November as the District of Columbia passed an ordinance legalizing marijuana for private use. The ordinance, passed by referendum, was voted into effect on November 4th, 2014, and went into effect this past February. This creates a bit of a confusing situation for D.C., which, unlike the other 4 jurisdictions that have legalized the drug, still sits at the end of Congress’s leash.

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DC Ballot Access Free-for-All?

Is it better to leave the legislative process entirely in the hands of the elite or should the public have input? Recently The Washington Examiner reported on the disparity between getting a candidate on the ballot and getting an initiative on the ballot. According to this article, candidates are required to produce less than 4,000 signatures to qualify for ballot entry while initiatives require approximately 23,300 to qualify.  These standards are given in the DC election code. The candidate requirement is set at 2,000 signatures (for city wide board members participating in a primary)—limited to the political party of the candidate—or 1% of the political party, whichever is less.  If the candidate is not participating in a primary election, then the number of signatures is set at 1.5% of the registered voters or 3,000 signatures, whichever is less. Instead of these set numbers, initiatives require signatures from 5% of registered electors, with this list containing at least 5% of the electors from 5 separate wards. Continue reading

Appointee to DC Board of Elections and Ethics falls before questionable statute

by Neil Gibson

In Washington, DC, the end of September saw Mayor Vincent Gray rendered helpless before a provision of DC’s statutory code, which foiled Gray’s attempt to fill out membership of the city’s  Board of Elections and Ethics.

In short, “civic activist” Dorothy Brizill, DC’s unofficial “government watchdog,” exposed the failure of Gray’s appointee for Board Chair to meet the residency requirement of the Board of Elections and Ethics statute. The statute calls for all Elections Board members to have lived in the city for three consecutive years, but the appointee, Robert Mallett, only moved to DC from New York City in May, 2010. With Gray already enduring corruption allegations and a recent flap concerning improper vetting of an executive appointee, he cut ties with Mallett soon after the problem arose, and is currently searching for a replacement.

Though there is no arguing the letter of the residency law, the absurdity of its application here rivals the District government’s apparent ignorance of its own legislative code. True, Mallett lived in New York from 2001-2010. But before heading north, he had been a DC resident for seventeen years. While a DC resident, Mallet served as Deputy Mayor, Deputy Secretary of the US Department of Commerce, an adjunct professor at the Georgetown Law Center… and the list of his high-profile DC-centric activities goes on. Continue reading

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