The District Board of Elections Chairwoman Deborah Nichols accused the mayor’s office Tuesday of “nickel-and-diming the electorate” by underfunding next month’s special election by more than $200,000 of its requested budget. The city has allocated $832,788 for the April 23 special election, which features a seven-person contest for an at-large D.C. Council seat and referendum that would give the city budget autonomy. The Board of Elections said it requested $1,046,800. Election officials said they needed money to ensure that election facilities and other expenses get paid. Additionally, further funding could be used to publicize the special election to improve voter turnout or to improve pay for election workers.
“I agree with your concern about nickel-and-diming the electorate,” Councilman Kenyan McDuffie told Nichols during an oversight hearing.
The city has had past issues at the polls. After last year’s Nov. 6 election, advisory neighborhood commissioners and other local leaders complained of long lines, equipment errors and ballot problems. At the time, Clifford Tatum, executive director of the D.C. Board of Elections, defended his group’s performance. But one voter compared the election-day experience with “voting in a Third World country.”
During Tuesday’s hearing, Board of Elections officials said they could not improve elections without the proper funding.