The head of the D.C. Board of Elections is departing the agency charged with managing the city’s voter rolls and elections, leaving just as preparations ramp up for an upcoming election year that will feature both local races and the presidential contest. Clifford Tatum, who took over the elections board in October 2011, is heading to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, where he will serve as general counsel. The commission was created in the wake of the contested 2000 presidential election, and provides technical information and assistance to state and local election administrators. Since Tatum took the helm of the elections board, he’s managed elections every year: two primaries, two general elections and four special elections. He also oversaw a controversial change in the city’s primary date from September to April; in 2016 it will move to June.
During his tenure, the elections board developed its first app, which allows voters to access information about their polling place and voting status, and earlier this year won a $35,000 grant from the Knight Foundation to develop an online platform to inform voters of wait times at polling places.
But Tatum was also criticized in the wake of the 2014 mayoral primary, when results for the contested race between Mayor Muriel Bowser and Mayor Vincent Gray were delayed for hours due to computer and server malfunctions. After that election, Tatum warned that the city’s stock of voting machines — both paper-based and electronic — needed to be replaced.