With only seven months left until D.C. voters cast ballots in the 2016 primary, the agency in charge of running the city’s elections remains without top leadership — and on Wednesday struggled to explain whether it has the money to buy new voting machines it says it needs. The issues were at the forefront of a hearing in a D.C. Council committee, where Council member Kenyan McDuffie expressed frustration with the challenges facing the D.C. Board of Elections as the city enters an election year. “This is too precarious a situation,” McDuffie said. “I remain concerned about the board’s direction.” Some of the issues aren’t new, and in the past have resulted in technical glitches that delayed the reporting of election results — most recently in the April 2014 mayoral primary. But one board-watcher said Wednesday that they may be getting worse.
“I have never been more concerned regarding the upcoming elections as I am now,” said Dorothy Brizill, a longtime civic activist who regularly attends board meetings and testifies on election-related issues.
The board’s problems start at the top. Earlier this month, Clifford Tatum, who served as the board’s executive director since 2011, departed for a job with the federal Elections Assistance Commission.
While Terri Stroud, an attorney with the agency, is serving as interim director, a national search to permanently fill the position has not yet begun. That’s in part because two members of the three-person board charged with overseeing the agency and hiring a new director are serving under expired terms and have to be replaced. (The third member resigned earlier this year.)