District of Columbia: Elections Board Signs Off On Plan To Mail Ballots To Every Registered Voter For November Election | Martin Austermuhle/DCist

The D.C. Board of Elections has signed off on a plan to mail every registered voter in the city a ballot ahead of the November election. The three-person board unanimously approved the plan on Friday afternoon, responding to criticism over flaws in the execution of the June primary, when voters were asked to request absentee ballots. The plan for November also includes doubling the number of vote centers for early and day-of voting, from 20 during the primary to 40 for the general, and the placement of ballot drop-boxes across the city. Election officials say they have already started laying the groundwork for a much more robust vote-by-mail election in November. Instead of mailing and receiving ballots as it did for the June primary, the elections board expects to contract the massive logistical operation out to a dedicated mail house, as most states that run vote-by-mail already do. That would also improve the ability of voters to track ballots as they are mailed out and returned, one area where the board itself had significant problems during the June primary.

District of Columbia: Some D.C. Residents Were Allowed To Vote By Email. Was That A Good Idea? | Martin Austermuhle/DCist

By Monday, Ward 6 resident Alex Dickson was running out of options. She had requested an absentee ballot for the following day’s primary election, but even after repeated promises from the D.C. Board of Elections that one had been sent, she had yet to receive it. By late that day, election officials offered her another option: She could vote by email. “What? OMG that’s crazy,” wrote Dickson in a Twitter exchange with an election official. But on Tuesday morning, that’s what she did. Faced with what is reported to have been hundreds of complaints from D.C. residents who said they never got requested absentee ballots in the mail, early this week the elections board decided to offer the chance to cast their ballots via email, using an existing service that had been used in the past — but only for a small group of voters with disabilities, and also for those in the military living overseas. The move came in the last-minute scramble to accommodate voters ahead of Tuesday’s primary, which was being conducted largely through the mail because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But the sudden shift in how the election was to be run — announced in late March, two months ahead of the primary — wasn’t without its challenges, leaving the elections board struggling to keep up with a huge number of requests for absentee ballots: more than 90,000 all told, roughly tenfold most normal election cycles.

District of Columbia: D.C.’s use of email voting shows what could go wrong in November | Joseph Marks/The Washington Post

The District of Columbia’s last-minute decision to allow voting by email in this week’s primary is sounding warning bells for election security hawks. The practice puts election results at higher risk of hacking because there’s no way for voters to verify their votes were recorded accurately, they say. And the scramble is a disturbing preview of how election officials beset by challenges may bargain away security if they’re not better prepared by November. “Between now and November, the D.C. board and any other jurisdiction that’s paying attention to what happened [Tuesday] needs to be absolutely focusing their energies on ramping up voting by mail capacities,” Edward Perez, global director of technology development at OSET Institute, a nonprofit election technology organization, told me. “And they need to do it now, now, now. Not in July or August, and definitely not in September.”

District of Columbia: Voters in D.C. primary face long lines, crowds at polls | Julie Zauzmer and Fenit Nirappil/The Washington Post

D.C. voters braved waits longer than four hours to cast ballots in a city primary election upended by coronavirus and demonstrations against police violence. The District attempted to shift to a mostly by-mail election to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. But many voters never received the absentee ballots they requested and the city shuttered most of its usual polling places, resulting in lines stretching for blocks. Results of the election were not available hours after polls closed at 8 p.m., to allow for the voters still waiting in line to cast their ballots. Initial results were not expected until early Wednesday. A 7 p.m. curfew the mayor imposed as protests continued to sweep the city halted public transportation and forced some voters to come up with alternative travel plans, and caused confusion when an officer improperly told voters lined up at a Georgetown-area polling place to go home. But residents said they were determined to exercise their voting rights in pivotal local council races and the presidential primary, with some citing the demonstrations against the police killing of George Floyd as inspiration.

District of Columbia: Voters report difficulty getting mail-in ballots for Tuesday primary | Julie Zauzmer/The Washington Post

As the District attempts to carry out a primary election on Tuesday like none before — one in which officials, mindful of the coronavirus pandemic, have shrunk the number of Election Day voting locations and urged residents to instead vote by mail — the D.C. Board of Elections resorted over the weekend to an unusual personalized approach. Staff members drove around the District hand-delivering ballots to some voters at their homes. The tour of the city with cars full of ballots was just one more unexpected event in a primary election that the Board of Elections has struggled to manage. Some Washingtonians have complained that the process of obtaining a mail-in ballot has been difficult or impossible for them — and the idea of voting in person during a pandemic is fraught. The Board of Elections has received absentee ballot requests from 92,093 residents — approaching the number of total voters in the 2016 Democratic primary. As of Sunday, 37,000 ballots have been mailed back, said Rachel Coll, a spokeswoman for the Board of Elections. Voters have until Tuesday to mail in their ballots, which will be counted if they are received within seven days of the election. Those who haven’t yet voted by mail or during early voting can vote in person Tuesday at one of the 20 voting centers set up in place of the usual polls at 143 precincts.

District of Columbia: Officials To Encourage Absentee Voting By Mail, Limit In-Person Voting For June Primary | Martin Austermuhle/WAMU

D.C. officials say they plan on encouraging more residents to use absentee ballots to vote by mail and will limit the number of physical voting sites for the June 2 primary. The changes are part of a plan to let the primary proceed as planned, while also addressing concerns raised by the coronavirus pandemic. “We have two major priorities during this unprecedented emergency. One, make sure D.C. voters and D.C. Board of Elections staff and poll workers remain safe. Number two, make sure voters have an opportunity to vote and every vote is counted,” D.C. Board of Elections Chair Michael Bennett said on Friday. Bennett said they’re asking as many voters as possible to request absentee ballots, which require no excuse or explanation. They can be requested online or through the election board’s app, and the city will also open phone centers for anyone who wants to call to request a ballot. Those ballots, which will be ready for distribution by May 1, can be mailed in or dropped off at designated locations.

District of Columbia: D.C. is slated to vote last in 2020 Democratic primaries. That might change. | The Washington Post

At it stands, Democratic voters in Washington, D.C., will be last in the nation to weigh in on who should challenge Donald Trump in 2020’s presidential contest. But some local politicos want to change that. At a meeting Thursday, the D.C. Democratic State Committee will consider whether to recommend moving up the District’s primary from June 16 to April 28, or some other early spring date. “If you want to be competitive in the democratic process, you need to be early up,” said D.C. Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), who represents the District on the Democratic National Committee. Evans and others have long argued that an earlier primary would draw national attention to the city’s lack of representation in Congress and spark more enthusiasm from local voters.

District of Columbia: D.C. Council declines to take up bill to lower voting age to 16 | The Washington Post

The D.C. Council indefinitely delayed action on legislation to lower the voting age to 16, dealing a blow to efforts to make the nation’s capital the first jurisdiction to allow minors to cast ballots in presidential contests. Lawmakers voted 7 to 6 to table the bill, imperiling its chances before an end-of-year deadline to pass legislation. The voting bill hit a setback after a pair of lawmakers who helped introduce the legislation — Trayon White Sr. (D-Ward 8) and Anita Bonds (D-At Large) — flipped positions and declined to vote for it. … Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) had backed the proposal but distanced herself from the measure before the vote.

District of Columbia: DC files suit to get votes in Congress | WTOP

A lawsuit was filed Monday on behalf of D.C. residents in a new bid to put legal pressure on Congress to give the District of Columbia full voting rights and representation on Capitol Hill. As millions of Americans head to the polls on Tuesday, advocates pointed out that District residents are still not able to cast votes for both a Senator and member of the House of Representatives. “This lawsuit says that it’s not just unfair and un-American, but it’s unconstitutional that people who live in the District of Columbia do not have the vote,” said Walter Smith, executive director of the DC Appleseed Center for Law & Justice. “It’s time to fix that.”

District of Columbia: D.C. Council committee approves bill to lower voting age to 16 | WJLA

The D.C. Council Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety passed the bill to lower the voting age to 16 in D.C. with a unanimous 3-0 vote Thursday. With Committee approval, the bill will now be placed on the agenda of the Nov. 13 City Council Legislative Meeting, where it will be voted on by the full council. Vote16DC, a coalition of youth, adult allies, and organizations that support granting voting rights to 16- and 17-year-olds in the District, has spent months leading up to this committee vote mobilizing community support and educating Councilmembers on the merits of lowering DC’s voting age to 16.

District of Columbia: DC awarded $3 million for new election security & upgrades, $0 spent as midterms loom | WUSA

It was a clarion call from the White House briefing room, that the threat from Russia was real. The nation’s top national intelligence officials took to the West Wing podium, as Director of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen encapsulated the message in stark terms. “Our democracy is in the crosshairs,” Nielsen said. She added, “we have seen a willingness and a capability on the part of the Russians,” to hack the American election infrastructure, including voter rolls and voting machines. But only six blocks from the August news conference, the urgency may not have seemed apparent, with the D.C. Council in summer recess, and a $3 million election security grant waiting to be approved. With less than 60 days before the midterm elections, the District has spent $0 of the $3 million grant, according to interviews and documents reviewed by WUSA9.

District of Columbia: DC teens could get right to vote | WTOP

Sixteen- and 17-year-olds in D.C. may become the youngest Americans eligible to vote in the 2020 presidential election. A bill backed by a majority of the members of the D.C. Council would lower the city’s voting age to 16. Takoma Park, Greenbelt and Hyattsville in Maryland have lowered the voting age to 16 and proponents in D.C. say the teenagers have become energized voting blocks in those communities (though they can only vote in municipal elections there). The D.C. measure would amend the city’s 1955 Election Code to allow 16- and 17-year-olds voting rights — and it makes no exception for presidential voting. It would also require every school in the city to provide its 16-year-old students a voter registration application.

District of Columbia: DC may let 16-year-olds vote for president. Is that a good idea? | NBC

High school students marched to protest for gun control after the Parkland shooting in Florida and soon they might be marching straight to the voting booth in the nation’s capital. Washington is on track to become the first place in the country to allow people as young as 16 to vote in federal elections, including for president, as the nation glimpses the emerging political power of the generation that follows millennials. It’s part of a burgeoning movement in the U.S. and abroad as a growing number of cities and states consider ways to expand voting rights to younger people.

District of Columbia: Vote At 16? D.C. Bill Would Lower Voting Age For Both Local And Federal Elections | WAMU

A bill set to be introduced in the D.C. Council on Tuesday would lower the voting age for both local and federal elections from 18 to 16. Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6), who is introducing the bill, says that given all the other responsibilities 16-year-olds already have, they should also have the right to vote on who represents them. “At the age of 16, our society already gives young people greater legal responsibility. They can drive a car. They can work. Some are raising a family or helping their family make ends meet. They pay taxes,” he said in a statement. “And yet, they can’t exercise their voice where it matters most — at the ballot box.”

District of Columbia: A driver’s license in D.C. will soon come with a perk: automatic voter registration | The Washington Post

Every District resident over the age of 18 who gets a driver’s license would become automatically registered to vote under a spending plan the D.C. Council is expected to give final approval to later this month. The spending plan, which advanced easily on Tuesday, would mean the District would join­­ eight states with automatic voter registration. Many Democratic lawmakers embraced automatic registration as a way to counter restrictive voter ID laws supported by some conservatives. Government groups have also pressed states to link voter registration with other government databases, saying doing so would help clean up inaccurate state voter rolls. Lawmakers in 32 states have introduced measures in the last year to automatically register drivers to vote.

District of Columbia: D.C. to spend $3 million to get names of dead people, other errors off voter rolls | The Washington Post

D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) plans to spend $3 million to overhaul the city’s voter registration database, a file that is riddled with errors, including the names of deceased residents and thousands of voters whose births erroneously date to the 1800s, according to a recent audit. The move comes as President Trump launches a commission on “election integrity” to cut down on voter fraud, but city officials say that is a coincidence. “There is no connection. This decision was made well before President Trump’s election integrity commission,” Bowser spokesman Kevin Harris said Tuesday.

District of Columbia: Republican-led Congress denies D.C. delegate a vote. Again. | The Washington Post

On the first day of the 115th Congress, members buzzed Tuesday about the repeal of President Obama’s health-care law, tax reform and whether to gut the ethics office. All Eleanor Holmes Norton wanted to discuss was a vote. And a symbolic one at that. For the fourth consecutive session, Norton (D), the non­voting D.C. representative, formally asked the speaker of the House for the ability to vote on amendments and procedural issues. Again, she was thwarted. This time, she brought D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) and a veterans advocate with her. Norton pushed for a vote in the Committee of the Whole as “a down payment on full voting rights for the more than 680,000 American citizens residing in the District of Columbia, who pay the highest federal income taxes per capita in the United States and have fought and died in every American war, yet have no vote on the floor of the House of Representatives, ‘the people’s house,’ ” she said.

District of Columbia: DC Council bill makes voter registration automatic | WJLA

Most of us dread going to the DMV, but the D.C. Council hopes your next trip to renew or update your license might help increase voter turnout. On Tuesday, Council members unanimously approved legislation making voter registration automatic. The veto-proof D.C. Council bill is now waiting for Mayor Muriel Bowser’s signature. The pending law would automatically send District Department of Motor Vehicles data to the D.C. Board of Elections. “At a time in our country, when we see states time and time again try to block people from the poll, from the ballot box, I’m really proud that in D.C. we actually are trying to make it easy as possible and get as many people registered to vote as we can,” said Ward 6 Council member Charles Allen who introduced the bill.

District of Columbia: DC Council considers rush on New Columbia statehood constitution | WTOP

One step closer to statehood, the D.C. Council heard and discussed what could be the state constitution for “New Columbia.” “The question is not why statehood, but what it should look like,” said D.C. council member Mary Cheh during Tuesday’s hearing. To create the state of New Columbia, the citizens of the District are following what’s called the “Tennessee Plan.” “The citizens, of in this case of the District, get their proposal together before they petition Congress for admission into the union,” Council Chair Phil Mendelson explained at the hearing’s outset. But there’s little time to waste to get the referendum to voters by Nov. 8. It will need to be approved by voters in November to be sent to Congress. It’s a big job to be done in a small window of time.

District of Columbia: D.C. mayor pushes statehood issue at Democratic National Convention | The Washington Post

D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser, speaking Tuesday at the Democratic National Convention, confidently predicted victory — and soon — in the District’s four-decade fight for statehood. Bowser used the few moments she was allotted to address the convention to publicly demand greater support for the cause from fellow Democrats. The mayor also made clear that she expects Hillary Clinton to fulfill her pledge to be a vocal advocate for D.C. statehood if she wins the presidency in November. Taking the microphone to announce D.C. Democrats’ overwhelming vote for Clinton to be the party’s nominee, Bowser introduced herself as mayor of “the best city in the world, and soon to be the 51st state of our great union.”

District of Columbia: The statehood convention that wasn’t | The Hill

Since Mayor Bowser announced her statehood initiative in April, the celebratory mood has gone from one of exuberance to consternation among some statehood supporters in just a short few months. The debate over the content of the Mayor’s proposed new statehood constitution and the sequence for its ratification have caused a flurries of discontent. Now, according to council Chairman Mendelson’s office, the final statehood constitution is unlikely to be put on the ballot in November for a vote up or down. However, the language of the city’s “advisory” referendum states that D.C. voters who approve the referendum “would establish that the citizens of the District of Columbia … approve a Constitution of the State of New Columbia to be adopted by the Council…” In other words, the D.C. Council may add or subtract whatever language it likes and call it a constitution, without District residents actually knowing what’s inside when they vote to approve it in the November.

District of Columbia: Statehood measure approved for November ballot | The Washington Post

A ballot referendum to split the nation’s capital into a new state for its residents and a smaller, federal district for government buildings and monuments is headed to D.C. voters in November. The D.C. Council unanimously approved the referendum proposed by Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) on Tuesday, saying that, if approved, it could help pressure Congress to hold the first vote in more than two decades to allow D.C. residents to form the 51st state. In backing the plan, however, the council brushed aside criticism from statehood advocates who felt that D.C. residents should have more say in drafting a constitution for the would-be state. A final vote on the founding document, which voters would be asked to “approve,” would not be taken by the D.C. Council until after the November election.

District of Columbia: District To Become 51st State? Washington, DC, Could Be Named ‘New Columbia’ If It Gets Statehood | IBT

A commission working out the logistics of Washington, D.C.’s bid for statehood decided this week if they’re successful in becoming the 51st state, it should be called “New Columbia,” the Washington Post reported. New Columbia beat out suggestions like “the State of Washington, D.C.,” “Anacostia,” “Douglass Commonwealth” and “Potomac,” according to WAMU, American University radio in Washington. It emerged as the victor in part because voters have technically already approved it once — in 1982, another time Washingtonians pushed to become a state. “It’s the only name that’s even been voted on by the people of the District of Columbia,” shadow Sen. Michael Brown told WAMU. “For 34 years, people have used this name to push this movement forward.”

District of Columbia: D.C. makes it shockingly easy to snoop on your fellow voters | The Washington Post

A little-known law in the nation’s capital is leading to complaints over the way it lets anyone on the Internet find out D.C. voters’ names, addresses, voting history and political affiliations, with little more than a click or two. The political list, known as a voter file, was published on the D.C. Board of Elections’ website in the weeks leading…

District of Columbia: Glitch believed to be based in mobile app erases some D.C. voters’ party affiliation | The Washington Post

Voters reported multiple problems in casting ballots in the District on Tuesday, raising the possibility that technical issues could mar a citywide election for the second year in a row. An unknown number of D.C. voters who went to the polls discovered that their party affiliation had changed — without their authorization. Three voters interviewed by The Post said they were told their registration was no longer Democrat but “N-P,” meaning no party, preventing them from casting regular ballots counted on Election Day. The Distrtict has a closed primary; only voters registered as Democrats, Republicans and D.C. Statehood Green party members can participate.

District of Columbia: Dead last — again — among U.S. primaries, D.C. Democrats chafe at a trivial vote | The Washington Post

Democrats heading to the polls Tuesday for the District’s presidential primary will participate in an odd ritual: They’ll vote, but the results won’t matter. The party’s intensely fought battle between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton is over — decided last week, when Clinton racked up enough victories across the country to secure her party’s nomination. The city’s inconsequential status is largely a function of its dead-last place on the primary calendar, something Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) says she wants to change for future presidential contests. But that feeling of futility and sense of invisibility go beyond presidential primaries: They underscore the civic experience in the District, residents say.

District of Columbia: New Columbia? Washington DC sees new hope in fight for statehood | The Guardian

The leading contender is New Columbia, but that has associations with Christopher Columbus some would question. Other options include Anacostia or Potomac. Or how about Douglass Commonwealth – conveniently DC – after the abolitionist Frederick Douglass? The debate over what to call America’s hypothetical 51st state is just one of the thorny issues facing campaigners as they strive to correct what they claim is a long historical injustice unique among capital cities around the world. The effort to gain statehood for Washington, District of Columbia, received a boost on Thursday when the Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders reaffirmed his support. “I hope that the next time I’m back we’re going to be talking about the state of Washington DC,” he said to cheers at a rally ahead of Tuesday’s Democratic primary. Hillary Clinton has also endorsed the plan, although the fact that Washington’s Democratic primary is the last in the country, and a “dead rubber” now that Clinton is certain of victory, could be seen as symbolic of how one city deeply underrepresented in Washington politics is Washington itself. It was not until 1964 that residents of DC could even vote for president.

District of Columbia: Clinton calls for making DC the 51st state | The Washington Post

Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton called for making the nation’s capital the country’s 51st state on Wednesday, promising to be a “vocal champion” for D.C. statehood. She blasted presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump for failing to say whether D.C. residents should have the same voting rights as other Americans. “In the case of our nation’s capital, we have an entire populace that is routinely denied a voice in its own democracy. . . . Washingtonians serve in the military, serve on juries, and pay taxes just like everyone else. And yet, they don’t even have a vote in Congress,” Clinton wrote in an op-ed published in the Washington Informer, an African American weekly newspaper.

District of Columbia: Kasich on D.C. voting rights: ‘That’s just more votes in the Democratic Party.’ | The Washington Post

When asked his position on D.C. voting rights, Republican presidential contender John Kasich didn’t pretend to draw on any constitutional clause or existing law to explain his stance against it. Instead, the Ohio governor stated the political reason that many already perceive as the biggest obstacle standing between D.C. and congressional voting representation: Giving D.C. voting representatives in Congress would mean more Democrats in Congress. “What it really gets down to if you want to be honest is because they know that’s just more votes in the Democratic Party,” Kasich said Wednesday during an interview with The Washington Post editorial board.

District of Columbia: Mayor calls for citywide vote to make nation’s capital the 51st state | The Washington Post

D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser on Friday called for a citywide vote in November on making the nation’s capital the 51st state, resurrecting a decades-old plan to thrust the issue before Congress and raise awareness across the country about District residents’ lack of full citizenship. “I propose we take another bold step toward democracy in the District of Columbia,” Bowser (D) said at a breakfast attracting hundreds of city residents, Democratic members of Congress and civil rights leaders marking the 154th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s emancipation of slaves in the nation’s capital. “It’s going to require that we send a bold message to the Congress and the rest of the country that we demand not only a vote in the House of Representatives,” she said. “We demand two senators — the full rights of citizenship in this great nation.” The mayor’s announcement appeared poised to ratchet up tension between the District’s Democratic majority and its federal overseers in a Republican-controlled Congress.